Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach dismissed a voter fraud case Friday against former Olathe resident Betty Gaedtke.
A jury trial had been scheduled for Monday in Johnson County District Court. The case, filed last fall, was one of the first brought by Kobach after the Legislature gave him prosecutorial authority to crack down on voter fraud.
“They saw the writing on the wall and dismissed it,” said Trey Pettlon, Gaedtke’s attorney. “If this case wasn’t dismissed by the secretary of state, she would have been vindicated by a jury.”
Gaedtke and her husband, Steven, who are in their 60s, were charged with misdemeanors for allegedly casting 2010 general election ballots in both Kansas and Arkansas. Some of the counts involved advance voting ballots.
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Steven Gaedtke pleaded guilty in December to one misdemeanor count related to unlawful voting and paid the maximum $500 fine. Two other counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Kobach said his office’s investigation of the case ultimately determined that Steven Gaedtke was the person who violated the law with respect to signing the couple’s absentee ballots. Double voting occurred, he said, but Betty Gaedtke was not the person who signed her ballot, and the charges against her were dropped.
“At the end of the day, we have the guilty party punished,” Kobach said. “We believe the case has been brought to a just conclusion.”
When Steven Gaedtke pleaded guilty in December, his attorney, Scott Gyllenborg, told Johnson County District Judge Thomas Sutherland that Gaedtke was “an otherwise law-abiding citizen who made a mistake.”
Pettlon declined to discuss details of Betty Gaedtke’s case, but he praised Gaedtke, a domestic violence prevention educator and a Native American, as “one of the most civic-minded people you’ll ever meet. She’s one of those people who is always giving back.”
Pettlon said earlier that at the time of the 2010 election, the Gaedtkes were in the midst of moving from Olathe to Arkansas.
A conservative Republican, Kobach has championed the use of prosecutions to fight voter fraud as well as the implementation of strict voter-registration rules, such as proof-of-citizenship requirements.