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With the August 5 primary only a day away, some thoughts of the state of democracy in Kansas seem appropriate. An article in Friday's Wichita Eagle predicting  low turnout for Tuesday's primary, despite heated US Senate and House Republican primaries, indicates that there is a real problem. Here are some thoughts.

 The biggest issue, in my opinion, is the restrictive voter identification laws enacted by Secretary of Sate Kris Kobach, but there are others.

Dueling Kansas Governor's Polls

There are now two recent polls with very contrasting results out on the Kansas Governors race. A poll from Survey USA showed the Democratic team of Paul Davis and Jill Docking with a 48-40 lead over incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback and Lt. Governor Jeff Coyler. Then, on Sunday a poll done by British YouGov polling firm for the New York Times and CBS News showed Brownback with 47 to 37 lead, and including leaners at 52 to 40 lead.

Naturally, this has prompted some questions. How can such divergent results, around a 20 percent swing, be explained? Which poll is most reliable?

With the Kansas primary only a month away, it  looks like Senator Pat Roberts has "Lugared" himself with what the right-wing media outlet Breitbart,com  called a "Freudian slip" in an interview on radio station KCMO and reported on July 3 in the DC insider newspaper The Hill saying he returns home to Kansas "every time I get an opponent"  and proclaiming that he doesn't measure his voting record by "how many times I sleep wherever it is."
Rally To Feature Broad Cross-Section of Kansans Addressing Extremist Legislation From Corporate Lobbyists

Topeka, KS--Nurses, teachers, clergy, elected leaders and others will rally at the State Capitol this Saturday February 23 at 2:00 p.m. to push back against an increasingly extreme legislative agenda. Kansans from a variety of backgrounds, political parties and professional backgrounds will be in attendance and among the featured speakers.

 "The Governor and legislative leaders need to know that what they're doing will not happen in some back room where nobody notices," explained AFT Kansas President Lisa Ochs. "The people of Kansas will know exactly who is destroying the quality of life in our state, along with its future."

Tom Hayden, a leader of the student new left and antiwar movement in the sixties and a long-term activist, writer, and thinker for progressive politics, was keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Wichita Peace and Social Justice Center on Dec. 7 2012.

Friends University political science professor Russell Fox has written an insightful post on Hayden and his Wichita talk.

Here is Hayden's speech. (He also spent about an hour answering questions and then mixed informally, signing his books and visiting.)

[Dec 14 update: The first version of the video had some missing audio. It should be included in this take.]
Patriot Majority USA has run two bus tours, one on the West Coast, and one in the eastern  half of the country. focused on the Koch Brothers and their Greed Agenda, which they push with hundreds of millions of dollars and through organizations they have established and funded such as Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, and Freedomworks.
Ken Bernstein,  a recently retired National Board Certified Social known for his blogging as teacherken at Daily Kos reported on the trip. Here is his report from Kansas re-posted with permission from the Education Votes website:

When I say "we" it is because on Friday both buses, the one I was on in the East and the one that had been traveling the West, caught up with one another in Topeka, the state capitol, and then finished the tour at a union hall in Kansas City. Oh yes, and Bill Burke and some others first went to Wichita, to the headquarters of Koch Industries, founded by Fred C. Koch, father of the Koch Brothers Charles and David, who are the perpetrators of the Greed Agenda.

WASHINGTON, DC - Congress' willingness to extend a tax break for wind energy may predict the future of Kansas' flourishing wind power industry. Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas proposed a one-year extension over two weeks ago but it has yet to be voted on. The tax break, which has been in effect since 1992, was part of President Obama's stimulus plan and therefore is likely to gain opposition from both deficit hawks and Obama detractors running for re-election.

Kansans Ask, 'Where is Kris Kobach?'

TOPEKA, Kan. - On February 15, Kansans presented hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to Secretary of State Kris Kobach asking where has he been since taking office in January 2011.

Kobach has made many trips outside the state to promote his extreme, anti-immigrant agenda. He continues to "moonlight" as an attorney for city and states where his anti-immigrant legislation is undergoing court challenges.

voting-id-2.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - As reported in a recent Topeka Capitol Journal article, KanVote exposed a major discrepancy in new voting restrictions which has
resulted in a functional poll tax.

KanVote found that in order to obtain a free voter ID, voters without access to necessary proof of citizenship would be forced to pay for a birth certificate. KanVote made the discrepancy known this week at a rules and regulations hearing held by the Secretary of State's office.

After hearing KanVote's findings, Kris Kobach stated that free birth certificates are available for accessing the free voter ID. He claimed the discrepancy was mere confusion caused by his senator, Kelly Kultala. Kobach blames Kultala for postponing the implementation of voter registration regulations and creating confusion among related agencies regarding when free birth certificates are available.

Upon further investigation, KanVote discovered that the new voting restrictions do not make free birth certificates available to those applying for a voter ID.

WICHITA, Kan. - The recent enactment of Kansas' controversial voter ID law has many concerned that some citizens will not have equal access to the polls on election day and for the soon-to-come referendums.

Those concerned with the law fear that citizens who lack access to the photo ID now required to vote will be disenfranchised this election year. Though the new law requires all DMV's to provide free voter ID's, there has been little effort to educate voters on the new requirements and how to access the free ID's. The Kansas Secretary of State's Website contains incomplete instruction on how to access a free photo ID, and many doubt that DMV employees are prepared to answer these questions.

With Cimarron's first test of this bill happening on Tuesday and Wichita's on Feb 28th a coalition of concerned citizens are ready to take action to ensure that nobody is disenfranchised.

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