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Minutes for SB208 - Committee on Elections

Short Title

Restricting the number of remote ballot boxes that may be used in each county and requiring certain monitoring conditions for such use.

Minutes Content for Tue, Mar 7, 2023

Chairperson Proctor opened the hearing on SB 208 and called on Assistant Revisor, Mike Heim, Office of Revisor of Statutes, to give an overview of the bill.  Revisor Heim answered questions.

There were no oral proponents scheduled for the meeting.

Two audience members wished to speak as proponents.

  • Hannah Mingucci, Kansas Resident.  Ms. Mingucci also provided written-only proponent testimony.
  • Gary Morgan, Shawnee, Kansas, Resident.

Both participated in answering questions from Committee members.

Chairperson Proctor thanked the participants for their remarks.

Written-only Proponents were:

Oral Opponents for SB 208 :

  • Clay Barker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, General Counsel, stated it is the position of the Secretary of State's office that SB 208 is inconsistent with the structure of Kansas elections, which emphasizes local control and limits centralized mandates. (Attachment 8)
  • Jim Howell, Sedgwick County Commissioner, informed the Committee that Sedgwick County has 14 remote ballot boxes on government property that are locked and secured with surveillance cameras on site.  SB 208 would take away 13 remote ballot boxes and leave one remote ballot box for each election in Sedgwick County. (Attachment 9)  Mr. Howell distributed a handout of how Sedgwick County mail ballots were transmitted back to the Election office as of 8/2/2022. (Attachment 10)
  • Davis Hammet, Loud Light Civic Action, told the Committee there has been no documented problem with drop boxes in Kansas.  Instead some have used broad unsubstantiated accusations and extrapolated from cherry picked examples from other states. (Attachment 11)
  • Cille King, Advocacy Chair, League of Women Voters of Kansas, voiced her concern that prohibiting ballot drop boxes would unnecessarily and unreasonably restrict voters from being able to vote.  Those voters include those who work the same hours as the election office, don't have reliable transportation, are home-bound, or those who work out-of-area. (Attachment 12)
  • Mike Burgess, Director of Policy & Outreach, Disability Rights Center of Kansas, communicated that SB 208 would lead to more limited access to ballot boxes and limit the hours the boxes are available making it more difficult for individuals with disabilities and individuals assisting them to return their advance ballots. (Attachment13)

Oral Opponents via WebEx:

  • Rick Piepho, Election Committee Chair, Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials Association, indicated his concern that the passage of this bill would eliminate the deposit of advance ballots at polling places on Election Day as allowed under KSA 25-1132. (Attachment 14)
  • Caleb Smith, Inclusive Campaign Director, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, explained that this bill as currently written would ban the use of remote ballot boxes statewide.  This would create a completely unnecessary burden on voting rights and serve no purpose other than making it harder for Kansans to vote. (Attachment 15)
  • Erin Woods, Leawood, Kansas Resident, asked the Committee to vote NO on this bill.  Kansans are experiencing mail delays and current law provides Kansans with options to ensure their ballot arrives to the election office on time by allowing counties to provide safe, secure, and conveniently located ballot drop boxes.  Also, providing a three-day grace period after Election Day for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive and be counted. (Attachment16)

Chairperson Proctor thanked the conferees for their opponent testimony.

Written-only Opponents: 

There was no neutral testimony offered on this bill.

Chairperson Proctor closed the hearing on SB 208.

Announcements:  There are hearings scheduled this Thursday, March 9, for SB 221 and SB 209 and a continuation hearing on HB 2312 on the following Thursday, March 16.

The meeting adjourned at 5:06 p.m.

The next meeting of the House Elections Committee is scheduled for Thursday, March 9, 2023.