Kansas election conspiracy theorists seek 2020 redo, ban on electronic voting machines in 2022

Kansas Secretary of State’s Office says petitioners ‘misled and preyed upon’

By: - September 22, 2022 12:38 pm
Thad Snider election denier

Lenexa resident Thad Snider is among six plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed against the governor, attorney general and secretary of state alleging persistent voter fraud in Kansaas. The suit seeks to nullify the 2020 election and forbid use of voting machines in the November election. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Kansas secretary of state said plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging election fraud in 2020 and 2022 were manipulated by conspiracy fearmongers dedicated to undermining public confidence in the security and accuracy of voting in Kansas.

Six individuals filed suit against Secretary of State Scott Schwab, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Gov. Laura Kelly and Bryan Caskey, Schwab’s director of elections, in a bid for a U.S. District Court injunction forbidding use of electronic voting machines, except for people with a disability, in the Nov. 8 general election. If granted, the state would be forced to proceed with an all-paper voting process statewide coupled with hand counting of ballots.

The 77-page petition purports to offer evidence of misconduct in the November 2020 general election in Kansas that produced a victory for President Donald Trump as well as in the August 2022 primary election in which Kansas voters rejected a proposed abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution.

Plaintiffs demanded the federal court require Kelly to void 2020 election results to lay the foundation of a special election to correct that flawed exercise in democracy. Signers of the lawsuit also want the court to instruct Schmidt to open a criminal investigation of Schwab.

Whitney Tempel, spokesperson for Schwab, issued a statement saying it was “unfortunate the petitioners have been misled and preyed upon by those who seek to undermine voter confidence in the security and outcome of Kansas elections.” The demand for a redo of the 2020 election “ignored reality,” the statement said.

“As has been shown time and again, including through a requested recount that affirmed the 2022 primary election results, multiple layers of protection are in place to ensure the security of voting equipment and that every ballot cast is accounted for,” the statement said. “Despite the petitioner’s unfounded claims, these security measures work, and there is no evidence of any election fraud in Kansas.”

The secretary of state’s office said no case of election fraud from the 2020 general election had been prosecuted in the 105 counties of Kansas.

Schmidt and Kelly, who are engaged in a spirited race for governor, have expressed confidence in accuracy and fairness of the state’s voting system. Schmidt has said Kansas elections were “solid” and that he hadn’t seen evidence of institutional problems with the state’s voting process. Meanwhile, Kelly justified veto of election reforms by declaring there was no evidence of significant voter fraud in Kansas.


The six plaintiffs

The plaintiffs include election security skeptics Katie Roberts and Hannah Mingucci, the Olathe residents who filed a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court seeking preservation of election records. Their objective was to assist Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden’s inquiry into possible crimes. A judge dismissed their case in August.

Another is Lenexa resident Thad Snider, who has testified before the Kansas Legislature and spoke at a Johnson County conference about his suspicions of fraud in Kansas. He has alleged the state operated illegal ballot drop boxes and improperly certified election machines. The lawsuit also says Snider was “a witness to an illegally conducted post-election audit process for the 2022 primary election.”

“I have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to uncover these crimes because I take my rights seriously,” Snider asserted in the petition.

The list of plaintiffs included Rosemary Walker of Topeka, Stacie Harvey of Wichita and Melissa Leavitt of Colby. Leavitt was a central figure in the nine-county recount of votes on the abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution that was rejected Aug. 2 by convincing margin. The recount of ballots in those nine counties narrowed the margin by 63 votes.

The Kansas secretary of state office’s official results show 557,837 votes against the amendment and 385,014 votes for the amendment. The margin of defeat was 172,823. That equated to opposition among 59.16% and support among 40.84%.

In a recent social media post, Leavitt said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shouldn’t have endorsed Schmidt in the Kansas governor’s race last weekend. She’s said Schmidt, who is Kansas’ attorney general, hadn’t done enough to fight against distortion of elections.

“Call our AG and tell him patriots don’t support candidates who aren’t for election integrity,” Leavitt said.


Lawsuit claims

The lawsuit filed in mid-September asserted a bundle of constitutional rights were violated by negligence of Kansas elected officials to investigate potential fraud and strengthen laws to thwart cheaters.

“The petitioners have researched or have firsthand knowledge of overwhelming evidence that electronic voting systems are not safe and secure, which undermines the voter’s intent, therefore violating fundamental voting rights according to the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the lawsuit said.

The document claims the state’s voting machines were improperly certified in 2020, 2021 and 2022. They asked the federal court to direct the Kansas Board of Canvassers, comprised if Schwab, Schmidt and Kelly, to rectify those alleged shortcomings.

In addition, the lawsuit raised questions about malware attacks or intrusion by foreign governments, thumb drives with software that flipped votes, improper post-election audits and illegal ballot drop boxes.

“Elections have consequences,” the petition said. “Therefore, election officials should never value efficiency over accuracy and no amount of maladministration should be tolerated or accepted.”

With the injunction to remove from service electronic voting machines in Kansas for the Nov. 8 elections, the plaintiffs said, elections “will continue to be insecure, unfair and lack transparency.”

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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.