Kansas board rejects petition of Johnson County man seeking to join U.S. Senate field

Petition lacks handwritten signatures, 5,000 confirmed names of registered voters

By: - August 19, 2022 2:55 pm
Secretary of State Scott Schwab joined with representatives of Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt to reject the appeal of Overland Park resident Gerry Coleman to be included as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate on November ballots. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Secretary of State Scott Schwab joined with representatives of Gov. Laura Kelly and Attorney General Derek Schmidt to reject the appeal of Overland Park resident Gerry Coleman to be included as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate on November ballots. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Independent U.S. Senate candidate Gerry Coleman was a no-show Friday for appeal of the secretary of state’s decision to declare invalid his petition seeking placement on the November ballot.

Coleman, of Overland Park, presented July 25 a petition with typed names of 5,001 people, but it lacked corresponding signatures of those individuals.

His petition also was discounted because the secretary of state’s office determined the initial two names on Coleman’s petition didn’t belong to Kansas registered voters. That meant Coleman failed to comply with state law mandating a minimum of 5,000 signatures on the petition were from certified eligible voters.

On July 27, Coleman filed an objection that was taken up by the three-member State Objections Board. The board consists of Secretary of State Scott Schwab, Lt. Gov. David Toland and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Toland and Schmidt sent replacements to serve as hearing officers.

Coleman sent a letter to the State Objections Board this week explaining why his petition ought to be recognized as valid. He asserted state law forbid rejection of what he referred to as his electronic signatures. However, Kansas statute mandates signatures be handwritten.

“Signatures waived only for R or D (Republican or Democrat) and lack of access to election government processes for crisis or disability are discrimination,” Coleman’s disjointed appeal letter said.

He wrote the secretary of state’s office hadn’t considered COVID-19, monkeypox and other illnesses could be spread during examination of his petition.

Here is how Coleman put it: “Disregard for Covid/Monkeypox — Saudi Fistbump, candidacy signatures, interaction, etc. — crisis and issues bringing spread and death risks are accountable.”

The board voted unanimously and without debate to affirm the secretary of state office’s rejection of the petititon submitted by Coleman. That left the U.S. Senate ballot to include Republican Jerry Moran, Democrat Mark Holland and Libertarian David Graham.

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Tim Carpenter
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.

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