A pair of mistakes on the part of Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office has revealed Gov. Jeff Colyer is gaining ground in the too close to call Republican primary for Kansas governor. A third, unconfirmed error in Wyandotte County could narrow the gap even more… and now a fourth.
As of Wednesday morning, Kobach’s unofficial lead over Colyer in the yet to be canvassed, and likely recounted, primary election was 191 votes. That total shrunk to 121 on Thursday following two reported errors from election officials in Thomas and Haskell Counties. Colby is the seat of Thomas County in Northwest Kansas. While Haskell County, in Southwest Kansas, is seated in Sublette. About 40 miles south of Garden City.
Thomas County Clerk Shelly Harms confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday she had submitted 522 votes for Colyer Tuesday night, and the secretary of state’s office reported it at 100 less votes for the governor at 422. State Elections Director Bryan Caskey confirmed the discrepancy.
Late Thursday afternoon, The Haskell County Clerk’s Office said the secretary of state’s office website had not correctly reported their submitted numbers either. The Haskell County results were 257 for Kobach and 220 for Colyer. The official website of Kobach’s office showed the Secretary at 110 and Colyer at 103.The net gain for Colyer is 70 votes. Cutting the existing margin between he and Kobach by more than one-third.
According to Fox 4 News in Kansas City, Haskell County Deputy Clerk Emily Aragon said the county was still missing a precinct when it sent initial results to the state on Tuesday night. The county sent updated results later that night which contained another 264 votes from the previously missing precinct.
As of 8:00 p.m. Thursday evening, the state’s website did not reflect any changes to correct the confirmed errors. The site had not been updated since 8:01 a.m. on Wednesday. Presumably, when the totals for Johnson County were posted after technical problems with new election equipment led to delayed results. WIBW reports that the website is to be updated on Friday.
Fox 4 is also reporting the Wyandotte County Clerk’s Office, in Kansas City, is showing 2,714 votes for Kobach and 1,532 for Colyer. The state’s website shows Kobach with 2,737 to Colyer’s 1,538. If confirmed, Kobach’s overall lead in the Republican governor’s primary would shrink by another net 17 votes from 121 to 104.
Another potential four votes in Gov. Colyer’s favor could come from Elk County in Southeast Kansas. The county’s result listed on its website does not match up with the secretary of state’s website. The county shows Colyer with 233 and Kobach with 258. The state’s website also shows Kobach with 258, but Colyer at 229.
The number of county’s experiencing discrepancies when comparing their counts to the counts listed by Secretary of State Kobach’s website has doubled from two to four in the past several hours.
Colyer is calling upon Kobach to stop advising county election officials while their tight Republican primary race remains unsettled. Colyer sent Kobach a letter Thursday which accuses him of giving county election officials guidance that is “inconsistent with Kansas law” about handling mailed-in and other ballots.
As secretary of state, Kobach is the state’s top elections official, setting rules, giving county officials guidance and appointing election commissioners in the state’s four most populous counties including Johnson, Sedwick, Shawnee, and Wyandotte.
Colyer suggested in the letter for Kobach to have Attorney General Derek Schmidt provide advice to county election officials instead. Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert said the secretary of state would respond to Colyer’s letter on Friday.
Colyer’s campaign spokesman, Kendall Marr, also said it has set up a “voting integrity” telephone hotline after it had received “countless” reports of voters experiencing issues at the polls.
In a CNN interview, Kobach announced late on Thursday night that he would recuse himself from his role as the state’s top election official in the primary election between he and Governor Colyer amid the discrepancies among the vote counts in his favor after previously refusing to do so.