Judge grants Sen. Julia Lynn’s request to be removed from November ballot

A district court judge determined state Sen. Julia Lynn can withdraw from the November ballot after reversing Secretary of State Scott Schwab's decision to block her removal because her medical-hardship petition didn't comply with state law. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A Shawnee County District Court judge reversed a decision of the Kansas secretary of state by granting a request Friday from Sen. Julia Lynn to be removed from the November election ballot due to a medical hardship.

Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican and former legislator, had rejected the petition from Lynn because the document was signed by a licensed practice nurse rather than a doctor as required under Kansas law. Lynn appealed.

In Topeka, Judge Thomas Luedke declared Lynn’s withdrawal application valid. His order said the licensed practical nurse’s signature on Lynn’s petition attested to authenticity of the printed name of the physician consulted by Lynn.

In court documents, Lynn’s attorneys and the secretary of state’s office agreed the medical confirmation of a medical hardship had been “signed” by a doctor and submitted to the secretary of state prior to the Sept. 1 deadline.

Secretary of State Scott Schwab rejected a petition from Sen. Julia Lynn to withdraw from the November ballot because it was signed by a nurse rather than a doctor as required by state law. A Shawnee County judge reversed Schwab after it was determined a doctor signed off on Lynn's medical emergency and the nurse merely attested to authenticity of the signature. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
Secretary of State Scott Schwab rejected a petition from Sen. Julia Lynn to withdraw from the November ballot because it was signed by a nurse rather than a doctor as required by state law. A Shawnee County judge reversed Schwab after it was determined a doctor signed off on Lynn’s medical emergency and the nurse merely attested to authenticity of the signature. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Lynn, who has served in the Legislature since 2006, sought to be dropped from the ballot to care for a sister in failing health.

Schwab said his office was dedicated to making certain election documents and filing timelines complied with state law. Lynn’s application for withdrawal was presented to the secretary of state’s office minutes before the deadline by an employee of Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican.

“For some odd reason,” Schwab said, “Senate staff and the candidate failed to coordinate with our office to guarantee compliance with state law and, instead, waited until the last minute to submit the required documents.”

Clay Barker, deputy general counsel for the secretary of state, said Lynn showed up at the office and asked to withdraw around 4:50 p.m. on Sept. 1. She provided a handwritten explanation.

Lynn asserted that the signature of a nurse was sufficient, Barker said, but state law requires the signature to be from a medical doctor. As part of Lynn’s lawsuit, the doctor provided an affidavit saying the nurse had provided his electronic signature, which is acceptable under state law.

“If somebody would have explained it to us,” Barker said, “we would have approved it that day.”

Schwab said the controversy was made “unnecessarily complicated with unsolicited opinions from outside entities and supplemental information being provided to our office well after the September 1 deadline.”

He expressed appreciation for the court’s prompt action on Lynn’s appeal and “remain committed to serving the citizens of Kansas in upholding state election law.”

Republican leaders in Lynn’s district in Johnson County are responsible for selecting her replacement for the Nov. 3 ballot. Stacey Knoell, an educator in public schools, is the Democratic nominee in the district.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.
Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal, where he started on the copy desk, then oversaw digital operations, was the managing editor and reported from the Statehouse. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.