Sheriff McGovern, a Republican who was re-elected in 2016, said he and his mother had no intention of wrongdoing when she registered to vote at an address that she no longer lived at.
When asked why he thought it would be legal for his mother to continue being registered at a house she no longer owned or occupied, McGovern initially responded by saying he discussed the matter with Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew and was assured that it was OK.
But that explanation left questions about why Lois McGovern’s address was changed to the sheriff’s house just days prior to the November general election — despite the fact that Lois McGovern didn’t live at that address either.
When asked to explain, McGovern said that may have been the point that he received guidance from Shew. He said he may not have received any advice from Shew prior to the primary election. He said he didn’t remember whether he talked to Shew about the primary election issue.
Shew said he is certain that he never gave McGovern any advice that it would be permissible for his mother to remain registered at the Schwarz Road house that she had sold. Shew said that Sheriff McGovern asked about the issue just prior to picking up a ballot for his mother for the general election. Shew said he’s not sure what caused the sheriff to raise the question.
A source with knowledge of County Courthouse workings told the Journal-World that McGovern asked about the issue after a county employee confronted him when he tried to pick up a ballot for the general election. The county employee questioned whether Lois McGovern still lived in the county, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because the source was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
McGovern said he doesn’t recall that confrontation, but also said he could not recall what led him to change his mother’s address to his home….
The secretary of state’s prosecution division is now reviewing the case for possible charges, but it is not clear that Kobach’s office was working on the case prior to the Journal-World contacting the office.
A Douglas County resident filed two complaints about the McGovern incidents: one was filed in early September after the primary election, and the second was filed in late October before the general election. The complainant confirmed that the secretary of state’s office never reached out to get additional information about the case.
County Clerk Shew, a Lawrence Democrat, also said he did not hear from the secretary of state’s office about the complaints. He said that is unusual, because in past instances of complaints, the secretary of state’s office has contacted him early in the process to confirm basic information about the voter’s registration and other details.
Caskey, the election official with Kobach’s office, said he didn’t have information readily available on when the case was forwarded to prosecutors.