TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has reversed course and directed county election officials to start mailing ballots to voters overseas Saturday without having a Democratic nominee listed for the U.S. Senate race.
The Democrat dropped out of the race against three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts at the urging of some party leaders who wanted to improve the chances that independent candidate Greg Orman would defeat the incumbent.
The Senate race in Republican-leaning Kansas recently emerged as a battleground in the national fight over control of the Senate. Some recent polls have suggested that Orman has a decent change of unseating Roberts, who emerged vulnerable from a nasty Republican primary in August.
Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter confirmed Friday that the secretary of state had decided against delaying the mailing of ballots to military personnel and other U.S. citizens overseas. That was a change from his statement Thursday that the deadline for starting the mailings would be pushed back to Sept. 27.
On Friday afternoon, Kobach’s office sent a directive to county officials, telling them to move ahead with mailing the ballots. The directive, provided to The Associated Press by a county official, said Kobach’s office would provide an additional disclaimer to accompany each ballot, without being more specific.
At issue is a federal law requiring mailing of ballots to military personnel and other U.S. citizens overseas to start 45 days before an election, or Saturday. Kobach said on Thursday that 526 voters would be affected statewide.
Poetter said Kobach was taking the step as a “safety measure” to comply with the law.