Update, 09/19/2014: Kobach backtracked from his initial statement and said ballots will meet federal deadlines and will be printed and mailed out without a Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race.
The major networks are buzzing with the news that the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that Democratic candidate Chad Taylor's name is to be removed from the U.S. Senate ballot for the November election.
But all the networks are missing a vital point, one that will probably mean this battle is just beginning.
As previously reported on IVN, Taylor submitted a withdrawal request to the Kansas secretary of state's office on September 3. The next day, Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach declared that Taylor's withdrawal request was improperly formatted because he did not specifically state why he would not be able to fulfill the duties of office.Taylor filed a legal complaint with the Kansas Supreme Court to be removed from the ballot. Kobach countered by attempting to get the case heard in a lower court -- a move that would have stalled a final decision from being made until after the Saturday deadline to have November ballots finalized and printed.
The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, deliberated on Wednesday, and made its decision on Thursday -- a quick ruling so that the state could comply with federal deadlines to have absentee ballots mailed out by the weekend.
The court ruled against Kobach, stating that he had an overly technical interpretation of the law and that Taylor's request was properly formatted by all accepted legal standards. The court also noted that other candidates had been allowed to withdraw from races without using the precise verbiage that Kobach was demanding from Taylor.
The court ordered that Taylor's name was not to be printed on any ballots for the general election. The court declined to comment on whether the Democrats would have to name another candidate, citing that the "court does not issue advisory opinions."
Dozens of media outlets are homing in on Kobach's initial statements after the court's ruling -- that he was delaying the printing and distribution of ballots for 8 days and demanding that that Democratic Party name a replacement candidate as required by Kansas law.What the major media outlets haven't picked up on is that Kobach's plans are a
direct violation of federal election law.
Section 579 of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act -- under a section subtitled the MOVE Act -- was designed to ensure that "absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters have time to vote." The law clearly states that overseas and military voters must be given ballots with candidates identical to the ones used in the general election and they must be transmitted no later than 45 days prior to the election.
With a general election date of November 4, the ballots must be finalized and transmitted no later than September 20.
While there is a clause for hardship due to legal challenges, the specific verbiage of the Supreme Court's call for briefs was that the case would be resolved in time to comply with the urgency of the deadline. Hardship requests need to be approved in advance by the federal government -- a state's secretary does not have the authority to extend the deadline.
Without advanced approval by the federal government, any claim under the hardship clause would require an additional legal challenge with a stay from the court.
Republican incumbent Pat Roberts commented that over 65,000 Democratic voters had been disenfranchised by their own party and liberal judicial activists by today's ruling -- making a partisan reference to the court being composed of mostly Democratic-appointed judges. The predominate Republican view has been that the Democrats cut an inside deal in effort to unseat the incumbent.
Greg Orman's campaign responded to Roberts' accusations, stating:
"No matter who's on or off the ballot, Greg Orman is running as an Independent against the broken system in Washington that has failed Kansas and failed America. Kansas voters from across the political spectrum are fed up with the mess in Washington, and that's why Republicans, Democrats and Independents are supporting Independent Greg Orman for Senate."
Late Thursday, the Kansas Supreme Court received a petition from David Orel of Kansas City, who is asking the court to force the Democratic Party to name a candidate. Orel, a Democrat, states that he wants to have the option to vote for a Democrat on November's ballot. It is not clear if the court will hear this case.
Undoubtedly more cases will be filed as this develops and with federal election law now in play, this could easily become an issue for federal courts.
One thing is for sure... This case is far from over.
Image: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach / AP