Letter To The Editor: Nick Graham On Ballot Stickers

To The Editor:

Due to some misinformation shared both in this morning’s Fort Scott Tribune (October 17th, 2020 Edition) and at the Fort Scott Chamber Candidate Forum on Thursday night, misinformation that could discourage voters from participating in the upcoming general election,

I wanted to reach out and share some facts that have been omitted by both the Tribune and the Bourbon County Clerk.  Unfortunately it appears that was started as a fun, outside of the box, and locally manufactured (by Ward-Kraft) way to make it easier for voters to participate in a write-in campaign has been weaponized as a political issue, one particularly aimed at instilling fear in our senior voters, early voters, and mail-in voters.
On September 23rd, I received an e-mail from our County Clerk stating that she was being told that I was running a write-in campaign and was planning to use ballot stickers.  She implied that ballot stickers have caused damage to election equipment in past Bourbon County elections (which she repeated at the Chamber Candidate Forum this past Thursday night, along with estimated dollar amounts she feared taxpayers would have to pay due to this destruction).  This is false according to every Bourbon County employee and elected official I have talked to, including past Bourbon County election officers.  My campaign is in fact the first write-in campaign to ever use ballot stickers in Bourbon County as far as anyone is aware.  Despite this fact, the County Clerk asserted that this had happened in the past, and that “I am sure you would not want to be responsible for damaging our voting equipment.”
I responded to the County Clerk’s e-mail that afternoon, stating that I had spoken at length with the Assistant General Counsel of the Secretary of State’s office on September 3rd via e-mail, and had confirmed that ballot stickers were 100% legal to use in Bourbon County, and that any ordinance regarding ballot stickers would need to be voted on by the Bourbon County Commission.  I assured the County Clerk that the last thing I wanted to do was cause problems during this election, and offered to provide some stickers so that we could test them on sample ballots (ballots at our polling locations are run through one at a time, so this would be a pretty easy test to pull off), and offered to provide measurements of a sample ballot with a sticker on it so that we could make sure that it didn’t exceed the paper thickness and weight threshold of the ballot scanning machines.  I never received a response to that e-mail.

On a side note, in that e-mail exchange on September 3rd, the Secretary of State’s office also mentioned to me that the Bourbon County elections office had reached out to them about how to prohibit ballot stickers in Bourbon County.  I thought the timing of that (I had just announced my sticker-in/write-in campaign on August 17th) was…interesting.

After getting no response from the County Clerk, I assumed that the issue had been put to rest, but then on Friday, October 9th, an alarming post was made on the Bourbon County Republican Facebook group.  That post, from a lifelong Bourbon County resident who was genuinely well-meaning and alarmed, stated “Nick Graham is having labels printed and mailing out to be affixed to the ballot.  The labels might cause the equipment to jam creating a problem.  If your ballot is ripped it will not be counted.  I talked to the county clerk’s office.

After assuring this person that they had nothing to worry about, and that any ballot that was damaged for any reason whatsoever would have to be replaced per state law (and again, ballots are fed in one at a time), he was very apologetic, deleted his original post, and put this one in its place:  “I apologize if I have offended Nick Graham with my post earlier.  I was asked about the sticker earlier and said I would find out and let them know.  My earlier post was what I was told by the clerk’s office.

This prompted me to make an appearance at the October 13th County Commission meeting to seek the input of the Commission, as they have final authority when it comes to the use of ballot stickers.  I went over the timeline of e-mails and events that I just shared with you (including the e-mails themselves), gave the Commissioners some ballot stickers so they could see if they had any concerns, and they did not.  For reasons I’m not sure of, the following day’s issue of the Fort Scott Tribune covered the events of that County Commission meeting, except for my appearance, even though it had been placed on the agenda by unanimous vote prior to me speaking.

Again, I thought the issue was settled, but then this past Thursday night at the Chamber Candidate Forum, in her closing statement, the County Clerk chose to state that using my ballot stickers could cost Bourbon County taxpayers between $60,000 and $100,000 in damaged election equipment, despite the fact that I had established on the public record that the County Commission unanimously had no problems with me using them.

I’m writing this letter to set the record straight, and to ask folks to please let their friends and loved ones know (especially they are senior, early, or mail-in voters) that if they want to cast a vote for me but are concerned about the stickers, all they have to do is write “Nick” and circle the oval on the Write-In section of the County Clerk portion of the ballot, AND that our ballot stickers are safe to use and locally manufactured by Ward-Kraft, who knows a thing or two about labels and stickers.  Neither Ward-Kraft or myself would have gone to the trouble (and my expense) to mail out over six thousand ballot stickers if we felt there was a risk of damage to election equipment.

If you’d like to read my e-mail exchanges with both the Secretary of State’s office and the Bourbon County Clerk, or the Kansas Elections Handbook section on Ballot Stickers, they’re public record, and I’ve made them available for reading here:
 https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1smuOWfNOM0PU6Ry4V5OluCpjm6UxwAD3?usp=sharingIf you’d like to see my discussion with the County Commission on October 13th, or see the County Clerk portion of the Chamber Candidate Forum this past Thursday, you can view them both here:

Thanks for your time,

Nick Graham

Uniontown, KS

One thought on “Letter To The Editor: Nick Graham On Ballot Stickers”

  1. Political shenanigans in Bourbon County? Say it ain’t so! Just ask the Republican candidates about having to almost beg to get the questions that were to be asked at the last forum or the fact that at least one did not get the questions for the forum before that while his opponent had prepared answers to the questions. Ask the candidate who is having to deal with the disinformation being spread by the Bill Meyers campaign. Political shenanigans in Bourbon County? Say it ain’t so!

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