Kansas lawmakers pass proposal targeting ‘ballot harvesting’
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans on Thursday softened a proposal to make it harder for people and groups to collect and deliver voters’ absentee ballots but did not address Democrats’ objections before the measure cleared the GOP-controlled Legislature.
GOP lawmakers said they’re trying to prevent “ballot harvesting” by candidates and interest groups, while Democrats said it would hinder legitimate get-out-the-vote efforts.
The bill would make it a misdemeanor for people to deliver more than 10 absentee ballots for others, and it would prohibit candidates from collecting and delivering the absentee ballots of anyone other than immediate family members. An earlier version of the bill would have limited people to delivering five ballots and a violation a felony.
The Senate approved the measure, 27-11, and the House passed it, 80-42. The bill goes next to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who hasn’t said whether she plans to sign or veto it.
Republicans argued that allowing people to deliver dozens of absentee ballots increases the risk that some will be lost or deliberately altered or thrown away. They also candidates currently can unduly influence voters in their homes.
But Democrats said a lack of evidence of actual fraud in Kansas shows that the measure is unnecessary.
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