Thursday, November 27, 2014

Man says he was ‘stripped’ of right to vote

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 11/20/2012

A Franklin County resident recently told the Kansas’ Secretary of State his voting rights were infringed after he said he received erroneous information from the county clerk’s office. The county’s chief election officer said the would-be voter didn’t follow the rules.

David Feuerborn, Williamsburg, said the Franklin County Clerk’s office told him he could fax a completed ballot to the office, but later was told the Monday before Election Day it was an unacceptable method for absentee voting.

A Franklin County resident recently told the Kansas’ Secretary of State his voting rights were infringed after he said he received erroneous information from the county clerk’s office. The county’s chief election officer said the would-be voter didn’t follow the rules.

David Feuerborn, Williamsburg, said the Franklin County Clerk’s office told him he could fax a completed ballot to the office, but later was told the Monday before Election Day it was an unacceptable method for absentee voting.

“I’ve never missed an election since 2000,” Feuerborn, 41, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 6 to Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “Now I cannot vote because I was misinformed and stripped of my rights by Franklin County.”

Feuerborn, who was working at a Nebraska nuclear power plant before, during and after Election Day, said his job’s extensive traveling schedule prevented him from voting at the polls Nov. 6. As such, Feuerborn said, he called the Franklin County Clerk’s office to find information on absentee voting, which was his first attempt at casting a ballot in such a method, he said. Upon contacting the office, Feuerborn said, an unnamed staffer said he could print a ballot from the clerk’s website and fax the completed form to county clerk. 

“I called [the Franklin County Clerk’s office] back before I went to work [Nov. 5] to find out what to do,” Feuerborn wrote in the letter. “I was told there was nothing that could be done by County Clerk Shari Perry, and she denied [that a staff member] told me that I could print out a ballot, and was also told that ‘they’ve been there for a long time and that they don’t make mistakes.’”

The county office’s response prompted him to send a letter to Kobach, Feuerborn said, adding that he has yet to receive a reply.

“So if Obama wins Kansas by one vote, thank Shari [Perry] for it, because she denied me my voting rights,” Feuerborn said in his Election Day letter. (Republican Mitt Romney snagged about 63 percent of the county’s vote, while President Obama claimed only about 33 percent locally. Romney also won Kansas, but nationally, Obama won the Electoral College and popular vote.)

Perry, Franklin County clerk and a Republican, said she vaguely recalls conversations between her and Feuerborn. While she said she was apologetic Feuerborn couldn’t participate in the election, Perry maintained her office supplied him with accurate advanced voting information, which didn’t include details of faxing a completed ballot. 

“We do all that we can do as far as advanced voting,” Perry said, adding that only military personal can send or receive faxed ballots. “I’m terribly sorry that the guy couldn’t vote, but I told him about [his options.] ... I explained it to him we were open two Saturdays before [Election Day] or he could have emailed an [advanced voting] application.” 

Ultimately, Perry said, Feuerborn had plenty of time to vote and also was offered a variety of voting opportunities to cast a ballot. 

“Some people need to take responsibility,” Perry said. “There are guidelines that need to be followed, and the state of Kansas doesn’t allow the faxing of ballots to individuals. ... We always run into some of these situations around election season.”  

Currently, the Franklin County Clerk’s website features a link to an online application for advance ballot by mail, which includes addresses to all Kansas counties’ respective election offices. 

Advanced voting for Kansas began Oct. 17, and Nov. 2 was the deadline for voters to apply for advance voting ballots to be mailed. Noon Nov. 5 was the deadline to cast advance voting ballots in person at the office of all Kansas’ election officers.

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