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Noonletter, Oct. 22, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Bad data

What started as a regional tool to identify where Midwestern voters had registered in more than one state has ballooned into the massive Crosscheck system.

KCUR’s Peggy Lowe reports that as the system has grown to become a national repository of voting records, and grown into a powerful tool for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s anti-fraud crusade, so have its vulnerabilities.

It holds voter registration data for 25 states and more than 85 million voters. It was the supposed basis for President Donald Trump’s much-refuted claim that cheating cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election.

Lowe’s story documents how a woman from Johnson County unearthed fundamental problems with the database — both how it turns up false positives for double registrations and how it has failed to protect sensitive voter information.

Madame Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas elected its first woman bishop on Friday, from a trio of three women finalists.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports that the Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom will be the first woman bishop in the diocese’s 160-year history. She’s currently a professor of religion and philosophy at Waldorf University in Iowa. But she once led ministry efforts in Manhattan — at Kansas State University.

The Episcopal Church began ordaining female priests 40 years ago.

Need some roughage

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is asking the public to help recover — or raise funds to replace — a stolen, 10-foot-long inflatable colon taken from the back of a truck last week.

The giant colon is valued at $4,000 and staff from the Cancer Center say it’s an important educational tool. Colon cancer is a serious topic, but the inflatable colon is an eye-catching way to teach people about it, reports Stephen Koranda.

National Politician says other national politicians intruding on race

Vice President Mike Pence stumped in Topeka Friday to help Republican Steve Watkins in his race for the 2nd Congressional District in eastern Kansas.

Pence, reports Koranda, said national Democrats are eager to grab the seat in their efforts to swing the U.S. House away from Republicans.

“For all their talk about a blue wave,” the vice president said, “we’re going to build a red wall in Kansas and we’re going to send Steve Watkins to a renewed Republican majority on Capitol Hill.”

Pence’s visit came as Watkins is faces increasing fire for apparently exaggerating his business background and his response to an earthquake while climbing Mount Everest.

Vote early

A Kansas school board is closing its schools early on Nov. 6 so that employees — and high schoolers who are eligible — can vote.

It’s the first time the Haysville district near Wichita has made the move. It also gave staff and students chances to register to vote at school.

“We’ve had so much voter suppression in our state for so long,” Superintendent John Burke told Celia Llopis-Jepsen. “It’s really important that we remove as many hurdles as possible to make it as easy to vote as possible.”

Kansas lost a voter suppression lawsuit this year. The League sued Kobach and a federal judge found he had blocked tens of thousands of people from registering to vote.

Sheriff busted

A two-term Kansas sheriff will appear in a Junction City courtroom for the first time Thursday since being arrested last week for allegedly giving away a gun that belonged to Geary County.

Tony Wolf has been Geary County sheriff since 2012. He faces charges of felony theft and misusing public funds.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation began investigating this summer. It isn’t saying who Wolf allegedly gave the firearm to or how he supposedly used taxpayer money illegally.

Dickinson County Attorney Andrea Purvis is prosecuting.

Wet cotton

The Kansas cotton crop is seeing bolls open at a slightly faster rate this year than last year. And that’s rotten timing because heavy rains could cause damage.

“It could be a problem, but it turns out the more I’m getting out into fields, the more impressed I am,” Rex Friesen, a consultant for Southern Kansas Cotton Growers, told the Hutchinson News. “Hard driving rain can knock cotton off the plant, but so far I haven’t seen a lot of that happening.”

Your latest bad TV

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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