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Election snafu causes debate, but problem solved

12/23/2013

A look at some of the top stories from northwest Kansas in 2013.

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The April 2 election to fill three at-large seats on the Hays USD 489 Board of Education included the unexpected, and possibly a first occurrence.

Five candidates -- Lance Bickle; Kathleen Fischer; Danielle Robben, who recently married and now is Danielle Lang; Josh Waddell and incumbent Richard Kraemer; filed for election.

Bickle, Waddell and Lang were the top three vote-getters.

Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus found Waddell -- who received the second most votes -- was not a qualified elector.

After the election, Maskus said Waddell was ineligible to be on the ballot because he wasn't registered to vote in Ellis County.

Waddell, previously registered in Osborne County, said he thought he registered to vote in Ellis County.

When Maskus' office decline to administer the oath of office to Waddell, he went to his attorney's office to sign the oath and have it notarized.

The clerk's office then accepted the notarized oath.

When she certified the election results, Maskus made a notation on the certificate that Waddell was ineligible.

The board of education acted on the election results at an April 22 meeting.

Bill Jeter, who serves as the board's attorney and Ellis County counselor, told the school board it had five options regarding the election results.

The first was to take no action and accept the certified results.

They could by motion, second and majority vote, agree to accept the election results specifically including Waddell.

The third option would be to ask the district court for a judgment on Waddell's qualifications.

As a fourth option, the board could request an attorney general's opinion, but the attorney general doesn't have to give one and it could take months, Jeter said.

Finally, the board could refuse to recognize Waddell as a new school board member, which could require filing a court action.

The board voted 5-1 to take no action on the certified results from the Ellis County election officer. Former board member Sharon Befort voted against, saying she didn't want to take any action, and Kraemer was absent.

Waddell, along with Bickle and Lang, took his seat July 1.