Legislature fails to override Gov.’s veto of change to mail-in voting deadline

FILE - (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
FILE - (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)(Matt Slocum | AP)
Published: Apr. 30, 2023 at 12:49 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Legislature has failed to override a veto made by Governor Kelly to now keep the mail-in voting deadline in the Sunflower State the same.

On Thursday, April 27, the Kansas Democratic Party says that the Kansas Legislature sustained Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of Senate Bill 209. If passed, the bill would have shortened the deadline to return mail-in ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

“The legislature should be working to find more ways for Kansas voters to cast their ballots, not less,” said KDP Chair, Jeanna Repass. “As the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran and a civil rights activist, I was disappointed to see so many in the legislature try to make it harder for Kansans – especially members of our armed services – to vote. Your vote is your voice, and no one in Kansas should have their voice silenced. I am pleased to see these efforts have been defeated for now, but we must continue to protect and expand Kansans’ right to vote.”

The Senate voted 25-15 to sustain the Governor’s veto.

In 2017, the KDP noted the legislature voted almost unanimously - 40-0 in the Senate and 123-1 in the House - to pass a law that allows a 3-day grace period that ensures all votes, including those cast by military members abroad, are counted. Despite this, the legislature worked to reverse its own policy just a few years later via SB 209. It said this shows how politicized the issue of protecting voting rights has become.

“This bill eliminates the three-day grace period for mail-in ballots often used by those in the military serving across the country or overseas,” Gov. Kelly said after her veto. “It would also likely result in too many rural Kansans not having their votes counted in important elections. That is unacceptable. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier – not harder – for Kansans to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

House Democratic Leader Vic Miller said he approved.

“I support Governor Kelly’s veto of SB 209 completely. I got whiplash when some legislators -- who voted to create the grace period only a few short years ago -- also voted to remove it after seeing an increase in voter participation across the state. To me, an increase in voting is positive. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. There is a clear reason we have such an anti-democratic bill before the legislature right now: A small group of vocal loonies who can’t tolerate losing. They’re sore losers -- pure and simple. They scream about voter fraud and spread disinformation. Repeated enough, people start to believe it. Our elections are safe and secure. Let the people vote. End of story.”

To read the full text of the bill, click HERE.