TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) An all-Republican state board on Monday rejected a liberal Kansas activists challenge to Secretary of State Kris Kobachs listing as the GOP nominee for governor on the November ballot after he argued that hundreds of legal votes were not counted in the primary election.
The State Objections Board concluded that Davis Hammet, of Topeka, could not show that Kobachs narrow victory over Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary could be overturned by the issues Hammet raised. It also rejected Hammets argument that Kobachs chief deputy should not have been involved in reviewing the challenge.
Kobach defeated Colyer by 343 votes out of more than 317,000 cast. Colyers supporters initially raised some of the same questions Hammet did in his objection, but the governor conceded the race a week after the primary.
It is not merely that an objection has been made for one of the appropriate grounds. You also must present evidence that this election would be overturned, said Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, who presided over the boards meeting.
But Hammet said later that he couldnt show that Kobachs victory might be overturned because counties wouldnt give him information about voters whose ballots were not counted. Also, he said, counties arent consistent in how they report the number of rejected ballots. He did not rule out filing a lawsuit.
None of my objections were addressed, Hammet said. They just ignored every single argument I made.
Hammet is the founder and president of a voting rights group, Loud Light, and has frequently been critical of Kobach, other Republicans and their policies.
Kobachs campaign was represented at the hearing by Mike Roman, a former special assistant to President Donald Trump, who endorsed Kobach the day before the primary. Kobach advised Trumps presidential campaign and has advised the White House; the Kansas secretary of state also served as vice chairman of Trumps now-disbanded commission on election fraud.
Roman argued that Hammet did not have the right under Kansas law to file an objection to Kobachs nomination because Hammet is a registered Democrat and cannot legally vote in the Republican primary.
I really dont think he has standing, Roman said.
The board rejected Romans argument, based on previous cases, but Hammet criticized members for even considering the issue. He also argued that Rucker shouldnt have been involved in reviewing the objection because hes Kobachs top deputy and a past contributor to Kobachs campaigns.
Kansas law says objections like Hammets are reviewed by a board made up of the secretary of state, the attorney general and lieutenant governor, or their representatives. Rucker was Kobachs substitute on the board, and the other two officials sent substitutes as well.
Hammet argued that someone outside Kobachs office should have replaced Kobach on the board, instead of Rucker.
Board members said theres nothing in state law allowing the officials to appoint representatives outside their offices to serve on the board.
But Hammet replied: This is a ridiculous board in need of reform.
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