Libby Ensley says she is going “all over the state” explaining that the secretary of state is the chief record keeper of Kansas. “Many know that the office runs elections, but few seem aware of its primary purpose, which is to keep records for government and private businesses,” she said.
Ensley should know. She worked in the secretary of state’s office for 11 years before becoming election commissioner of Shawnee County in 1992 and is now running for the Republican nomination for the office in the upcoming August primary election.
Campaigning in Iola Friday, she pointed to her extensive experience as important qualifications for the position.
She was appointed to the Topeka elections office by Bill Graves when he was secretary of state and has been reappointed five times by Graves and recent secretary of state Ron Thornburgh. Both Graves and Thornburgh have endorsed Ensley’s candidacy.
“I strongly support Libby as our next secretary of state,” Thornburgh said. “She is by far the most qualified candidate for this office.”
Ensley said that protecting Kansas elections from fraud is important. She said she personally “helped root out election fraud and win convictions” in more than a dozen election crimes. She favors requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls and said voter fraud “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
She also favors changing Kansas election law to permit members of the armed forces who are on duty away from their home counties to vote on the same ballots that others do.
“Many people aren’t aware that ballots sent to members of the armed forces abroad must have local issues removed from them. An Iola soldier, stationed in Germany, say, can’t vote on any local question. I think that’s unconscionable,” she said, adding that she would work to change the law if elected.
One of the differences between her and one of her opponents, Kris Kobach, is that Kobach proposes to expand the office to include a “law enforcement arm” which would duplicate law enforcement services already provided by the Kansas Attorney General, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and city and county law enforcement officers. To do so would raise the cost of running the office, she said.
‘He wants to grow government. I don’t,” she said.
Ensley also opposes Kobach’s proposal to require Kansans to show proof of citizenship in additional to a photo identification such as a driver’s license to register to vote.
“That would require a lot of additional paper work and be a real inconvenience to Kansans, who usually don’t carry such documentation around with them,” she said.
If proof of citizenship is required, she said, “the most efficient way to do that would be to add one piece of information on a driver’s license: Citizen of what country?” Doing so would avoid duplication of effort, save money and be a smaller burden to citizens, she said.
In addition to keeping records for public entities and private businesses, the secretary of state also is the state’s chief election officer and coordinates the holding of elections in the state’s 105 counties with county clerks. Ensley has been working in those fields for 18 years, eleven years in the secretary of state’s office, including time in every department of that office, and for the past seven years as election commissioner of Shawnee County.
Among the well-known Kansans who endorse her candidacy, in addition to Graves and Thornburgh, are former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, former Secretary of State Jack Brier and nine former chairs of the state Republican party: Rochelle Chronister, William Falstead, Morris Kay, George Nettles, Kim Wells, Don Concannon, Dennis Jones, Mary Alice Lair and Don Schnacke.
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