Counting Error Halves Kobach Lead for Kansas Governor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) – Election officials discovered vote discrepancies in the Kansas GOP gubernatorial race, cutting challenger Kris Kobach’s current lead over incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer in half.

Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known for his anti-immigration firebrand style, had 191 more votes than Colyer on Wednesday. By Thursday, however, it was revealed that a counting error in Thomas County underreported 100 votes for Colyer. The original report for the county had Kobach at 466 votes to 422 for Colyer. The updated total now has Colyer with 522 votes.

Bryan Caskey, state elections director, said the discrepancy is part of the vote-counting process and that the final tally won’t be known until sometime next week.

“This is why we emphasize that election-night results are unofficial,” Caskey said.

With more than 10,000 mail-in and provisional ballots still uncounted, Gov. Colyer said Wednesday he would not concede the race until all ballots were counted.

“It’s certainly possible that the result of the race could change,” Kobach said at a Thursday news conference.

Kobach, one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, has advised the Trump administration on immigration policy and served as co-chair on the president’s short-lived voter fraud commission.

Colyer, who succeeded former Gov. Sam Brownback, was the favorite of the National Rifle Association and more traditional conservatives in the state.

Kansas does not have an automatic recount law, but candidates may request one at their own expense. More than 311,000 people cast votes in the election.

Kobach, whose office oversees state elections, has been asked by Colyer to recuse himself from the remainder of the counting process in a public letter released Thursday night.

“It has come to my attention that your office is giving advice to county election officials – as recently as a conference call yesterday – and you are making public statements on national television which are inconsistent with Kansas law and may serve to suppress the vote in the ongoing Kansas primary election process,” Colyer said. “Accordingly, I hereby request that you recuse yourself from rendering further advice in these matters and that you designate the Attorney General of Kansas to provide this function.”

Kobach said in a press conference Wednesday that he would not recuse himself from a possible recount process. There is no state law that requires him to do so.

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