Election Laws.The first legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas passed an act providing that on the first Monday in Oct., 1855, and every two years thereafter, an election for delegate to the house of representatives of the United States should be held, and in October of the even years, beginning with 1856, representatives in the legislative assembly and all other elective officers not otherwise provided for should be chosen. Every county was made an election district, "and all elections shall be held at the court-house of such county," and if there be no court-house, then at such house as the county commissioners might name. It was made the duty of the sheriff to give notice of the place, either by posting or by publication in a newspaper, at least ten days before the day of the election. The county commissioners were given power to establish such additional precincts as might seem to them necessary and proper, but in no case could more than one precinct he established in a township. The county commissioners appointed the judges of election; the polls were opened at 9 o'clock in the morning and continued open until 6 o'clock in the evening; but if all the votes could not be taken before the closing hour, the judges, by public proclamation, might adjourn such election until the following day, though in no case could it be continued beyond the second day.
Every free white male citizen of the United States, and every male Indian who had been made a citizen by treaty or otherwise, and over the age of twenty-one years, who was an inhabitant of the territory and of the county or district in which he offered to vote, and who had paid a territorial tax, was deemed a qualified elector for all elective offices. It was provided further that no person convicted of any violation of any of the provisions of the "Fugitive Slave Law," whether such conviction was by criminal proceeding or by civil action, was entitled to vote at any election, or to hold any office in the territory. Another provision was that if any person offering to vote should be challenged and required to take an oath or affirmation that he would sustain the provisions of the "Fugitive Slave Law" and the "Kansas-Nebraska Act," and refused to take such oath or affirmation, his vote should be rejected. Each member of the legislative assembly, and every officer elected or appointed to office under the laws of the territory, was also required to take an oath or affirmation to support these two Congressional enactmerits. Elections were to be by ballot.
The constitution of the State of Kansas, adopted at Wyandotte, July 29, 1859, provided that general elections should be held annually on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November. This was changed by amendment, in 1902, to biennial elections for all offices, held in years bearing even numbers. This also includes township officers, which, in the original constitution, were to be elected annually on the first Tuesday in April. In 1861 the first state legislature effectually disposed of the acts of what was known as the "Bogus Legislature" of 1855, and among those repealed was the one requiring an oath or affirmation to support the "Fugitive Slave Law," etc. By an act passed in 1862 no person was entitled to vote who should refuse to take the oath of allegiance to the government of the United States.
Chapter 78 of the Session Laws of 1893 introduced into Kansas what is popularly known as the "Australian Ballot Law." This act provided for the printing and distribution of ballots at the public expense, and for the nomination of candidates for public offices; regulated the manner of holding elections; and was designed to enforce the secrecy of the ballot and to provide punishment for violation of the act. This statute was repealed, in 1897, by the passage of an act "To regulate nominations and elections," under which, as amended by the laws of 1909, the ballots are printed at public expense. As amended by the laws of 1901, all nominations made by political parties are known and designated as "party nominations," and the certificates by which such nominations are certified are known and designated as "party certificates of nomination." Party nominations of candidates could be made only by a delegate or mass convention, primary election or caucus of voters belonging to a political party having a national or state organization, and such nominations were placed upon the official ballot. All nominations other than party nominations were designated "independent nominations," and might be made by nomination papers signed by not less than 2,500 voters of the state for each candidate. In counties, districts, etc., the papers must he signed by not less than five per cent. of the voters therein, and in no case by less than 25 voters, in a county or district, or 10 in a township, city or ward. Party certificates of nomination were required to contain a representation of some simple device or emblem to designate and distinguish the candidates thus nominated.
Certificates of nominations and nomination papers of state candidates must be filed with the secretary of state not less than forty days before the day of election, and all other candidates with the county clerks of the respective counties not less than thirty days. No person can accept more than one nomination for the same office, and if he receive two or more he must elect which one he will accept, otherwise he will be deemed to have accepted the nomination first made. The names of all candidates for the different general offices are printed on one ballot. Election boards are composed of three judges and two clerks, and the voting places contain booths in which voters prepare their ballots, screened from all observation as to the manner in which they do so. Any voter who cannot read or mark his ballot is assisted by two election officers.Pages 570-571 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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