Brian McClendon would bring competence to Kansas secretary of state’s office

Brian McClendon speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board

Brian McClendon speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board. He says he would bring order to an office that has been mismanaged.
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Brian McClendon speaks to The Kansas City Star editorial board. He says he would bring order to an office that has been mismanaged.

Kansas, it’s our lucky day. In all seriousness, we’re fortunate that someone like Lawrence native, KU electrical engineering grad and Google Earth software designer Brian McClendon wants to follow Kris Kobach as secretary of state.

McClendon is one of the most impressive candidates we’ve met with this year, for any office in either Kansas or Missouri.

He was an executive for Google and Uber before he returned to Lawrence and designed the voter registration site KSvotes.org, which lets Kansans register online with their cellphones and lets them order a ballot that way, too. After you sign with your finger and hit submit, it sends a copy to the county clerk — a method of voter registration that is more accurate than any other.

This isn’t a cure for cancer, but it’s a big upgrade, and an example of the positive difference that someone with McClendon’s experience could make. McClendon, who is running as a Democrat, wants to make it easier for qualified Kansans to vote and easier for them to access information, too. He’d bring the state’s website into this century and make its government transparent.

His opponent, Scott Schwab, a Republican Kansas state lawmaker, declined to meet with our editorial board.

Schwab has said that if elected, he would like to continue doing Kris Kobach’s job in much the same way that Kobach has done it, but with fewer fireworks. “I’m a little tired of the public-eye side of things and the overly visible side of things for me, personally,” he has said.

Kobach likewise supports Schwab: “I would hate to see a Democrat secretary of state attempt to undo the great improvements we have made.”

Improvements? Kobach has spent years making it as difficult as possible for Kansans to vote. He’s railed against illegal immigration and untrue accounts of undocumented immigrants committing massive voter fraud, while denying thousands of qualified Kansans the right to cast a ballot.

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What he has not done is the job he was elected to do. He was so busy making national news that he failed to certify election machines and never made any discernible effort to make sure that the state’s website works.

It’s hard to find anything on it, and many of the documents that can be located there are years out of date.

Right now, Kansas ranks 36th in voter turnout, and McClendon says that Schwab and Kobach are “OK with that. There’s a lot more the secretary of state’s office could be doing to both promote voter registration and voting but also making it easier and more efficient than it currently is, both at the state level and the county level. I will work on that very, very hard, and I don’t believe my opponent will.”

Neither do we.

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