Primary Election Laws.In his message to the legislature of 1893, Gov. Lewelling suggested that some effort be made to protect primary elections in the work of selecting candidates." The legislature of 1891 had passed an act providing that "when any voluntary political association or party in any district, county, township, or municipal corporation, causing notice for the holding of any primary election to be published," such election must be held under certain regulations authorized in that enactment. Amendments and additions were made to this law by succeeding legislatures until the special session of 1908, when there was passed "an act relating to primary elections, providing for the organization and government of political parties," etc., and repealing all other acts and parts of acts in conflict therewith.
This act has been amended in some particulars. All candidates must be nominated by a primary held in accordance with law, but the act does not apply to special elections to fill vacancies, to school meetings, nor to city elections where the population is less than 5,000. The primary is held on the first Tuesday of August, in the even numbered years, for the nomination of all candidates to be voted for at the next ensuing November election, and annually on the first Tuesday of March in all cities having 10,000 or more population, for all candidates to be voted for at the next ensuing city election. At least 120 days before the time of holding the primary, the secretary of state prepares and transmits to each county clerk a notice designating the offices for which candidates are to be nominated at such primary, and upon receipt of such notice each county clerk forthwith publishes once each week for three consecutive weeks, in the official county paper, so much thereof as may be applicable to his county. The sheriff of each county, immediately after the publication of the notice, causes copies of it to be posted in three places in each precinct in his county, stating the time when and the place where the primary will be held in each precinct, together with the offices for which candidates are to be nominated. Each city clerk, at least 45 days before the time of holding the municipal primary, publishes in the official city paper, once each week for three consecutive weeks, a notice designating the city offices for which candidates are to be nominated at such primary, and he must also post such notices in three public places in each election precinct in the city, not more than 20 and not less than 10 days before the primary.
The name of no candidate can be printed upon an official ballot used at any primary unless at least 40 days prior to such primary a nomination paper shall have been filed in his behalf. Each signer of a nomination paper shall sign but one such paper for the same office, must declare that he intends to support the candidate therein named, and must add to his signature his place of residence or postoffice address. The affidavit of a qualified elector must be appended to each nomination paper, stating that to the best of his knowledge and belief all the signers thereon are electors of that precinct; that he knows that they signed the same with full knowledge of the contents thereof; that their respective residences are correctly stated; that each signer signed the same on the date stated opposite his name, and that the affiant intends to support the candidate therein named. Such nomination papers must be signed: 1If for a state office or for the office of United States senator, by at least 1 per cent. of the voters of the party of such candidate in each of at least 10 counties in the state, and in the aggregate not less than 1 nor more than 10 per cent. of the total vote of his party in the state, or by at least 1 per cent. of the total vote of his party in each of 20 counties. 2If for a district office, by at least 2 per cent. of the voters of the party designated in at least one-tenth of the election precincts in each of one-half or more of the counties of the district, and in the aggregate not less than 2 nor more than 10 per cent. of the total vote of the party designated in such district, 3If for a sub-district or county office, by at least 3 per cent. of the party vote in one-fourth or more of the election precincts of such subdistrict or county, and in the aggregate not less than 3 nor more than 10 per cent. of the total vote of the party designated in such sub-district or county. The basis of percentage in each case is the vote of the party for secretary of state at the last preceding state election. But any political organization which at the last preceding general election was represented on the official ballot may, upon complying with the required provisions, have a separate primary election ticket as a political party if any of its candidates received 1 per cent. of the total vote cast at the last preceding general election in the state or sub-division thereof in which the candidate seeks nomination.
Whenever a petition signed by qualified electors in 10 or more counties, equal in number to at least 2 per cent. of the votes cast for secretary of state at the last preceding election, and not more than 10 per cent. of such total vote cast at said election, where certified to as genuine by the affidavit of ten well known, reputable, qualified electors of the state, asking that the signors thereof be recognized as a new political party, to be represented by a separate party ticket at the next ensuing primary, naming candidates for at least a majority of the state offices to be filled at the next ensuing election, and specifying the name, symbol or emblem of such new party, the secretary of state shall certify the name, symbol or emblem, and the list of candidates so specified to the various county clerks of the state, and a separate party ticket shall be prepared in the same manner as is provided for existing parties.
The nomination papers for each county or sub-district office must be signed by not less than 3 nor more than 10 per cent. of the total vote of each county where a county ticket is placed in the field. Those signing the papers must be distributed throughout at least one-fourth of the election precincts of such sub-district or county, and not more than one-fourth of such signers may be residents of any one ward or township. It is further provided that the petition to the secretary of state must be filed not less than 120 nor more than 130 days preceding the primary. Regulations are also provided for the nomination papers of candidates for municipal offices.
All nomination papers must be filed as follows: 1For state offices, United States senator, representatives in Congress, state senators, state representatives, and all district officers, in the office of the secretary of state, but when the district is composed of one county or less, they shall be filed with the county clerk of such county. 2For county and subdistrict officers, county and precinct committeemen, in the office of the county clerk. 3For city officers and city precinct committeemen, in the office of the city clerk.
A separate official primary ticket for each political party, having the names of all candidates for whom nomination papers have been filed, is printed and distributed for use at each voting precinct. When there is more than one candidate for any office, provision is made for dividing the ballots in the preparation thereof, so that each candidate's name will appear at the head of the list in different portions of the state, divided so as to distribute equally, as nearly as possible, the advantage of that position on the ballot. The statutes governing general elections, so far as they are not inconsistent, apply to primary elections. The person receiving the greatest number of votes at a primary as a candidate of a party for any office becomes the candidate of that party for such office, and his name is placed upon the official ballot at the ensuing election for which such primary is held.
A law of far-reaching effect was passed by the legislature of 1911. It prohibits the publication of unsigned political articles in newspapers, and no one is permitted to insert articles which tend to injury any candidate for public office. It had been charged that under the state-wide primary election law only rich men, or those able to pay for newspaper space, could make a campaign for a state office. The following is one of the stringent sections of the bill: "No person shall publish or cause to be published in a newspaper or periodical any paid matter which is designed or tends to aid, injure or defeat any candidate for the nomination for public office or candidate for election to public office, unless the name of the chairman or secretary, or names of the two officers of the political or other organizations inserting the same, or the name of some voter who is responsible therefor, with his residence and street and the number thereof, if any, appear in the nature of a signature. Such matter when inserted shall be preceded or followed by the word 'advertisement' in a separate line, in type not smaller than that of the body of the newspaper."
There is a further provision which declares it to be unlawful for any person to pay the owner, editor, publisher or agent of a newspaper to induce him editorially to advocate or oppose any candidate for office or political principle. A heavy fine is imposed upon the newspaper owner or editor who accepts money from such advocacy of men or measures. Corporations, too, are barred from the columns of the public press by the following provision: "No corporation carrying on the business of a bank, trust, surety, indemnity, safe deposit, insurance, railroad, street railway, telegraph, telephone, gas, electric light, heat, power or water company, or any company having the right to take or condemn land or to exercise franchises in public ways granted by the state or any county or city, and no trustees owning or holding the majority of stock of such corporation shall pay or contribute, in order to aid, promote or prevent the nomination or election of any person to public office, or in order to aid, promote or antagonize the interests of any political party, or to influence or affect the vote on any question submitted to the voters."
A heavy penalty is fixed upon corporations which violate this section. The maximum fine is $10,000, while the individual connected with the corporation may be fined $1,000 and sent to jail. The legislature of 1911 also adopted the "Oregon plan" of electing United States senators. The bill provides that the candidates, after nomination in the primary, shall be voted for at the general election, the result to be advisory to the legislature.Pages 502-505 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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