Last November, nearly two dozen mail-in ballots cast by disabled voters got tossed away in Sedgwick County.
Some state officials say local election authorities misread a technicality in state law, and the votes could have been counted.
Now Kansas lawmakers are pushing through bills aimed at wiping out any confusion — and making sure that people who have trouble filling out their own ballots can still vote by mail.
One bill aiming to clarify the law has passed the Senate. Another measure drew no opposition in a hearing in the House on Monday.
Last year, the Sedgwick County Commission tossed out 23 mail-in ballots because the voters who submitted them failed to sign their envelopes. The voters had disabilities preventing them from doing so.
Members of the commission said at the time they believed they had no choice under state law.
At Monday’s hearing, lawmakers and a representative from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office said existing law should have been enough to make clear that the ballots were valid even without the voters’ signatures. People with disabilities casting mail-in ballots are allowed to have someone assist them in doing so.
The secretary of state supports the bill to make sure that's clear. The office has also drawn up new regulatory language for the same purpose.
Also on Monday, the House Elections Committee unanimously passed a bill to the floor that would bar minors from running for statewide offices.
The bill comes at a time when several teenagers are running for governor or secretary of state.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ.