Kansas handed out 40,872 provisional ballots and discarded a third of them. Some reasons for throwing them out: The voter moved to another county but didn’t update registration; trying to vote in the wrong jurisdiction; and not being registered at all.
One obvious weakness in the system came from Kansas’ online registration site. Residents went to a voting place thinking they were registered because of misleading confirmations in the online system.
The election office knew of the erroneous confirmations but didn’t notify voters. The election office told county officials to count the ballots of those affected only if they brought a printout of their online confirmation. Otherwise, those voters were given provisional ballots that were later discarded.
It’s not known how many online registrants had ballots thrown out because of the website mistake, but even a few is too many. Voters who make the effort to register online should have confidence in the system to know they’re registered if a confirmation message appears. Online registration should be the easiest and most accurate way to become a Kansas voter.
Kobach should spend the fall making sure the avenues that led to so many dismissed ballots are shut by next August’s primaries, while still maintaining the integrity of the voting process. For a state our size, tossing that many ballots isn’t trying to help voters – it’s more likely trying to shut them out.