Ep. 8 ‘KRPS Presents’ Kansas Abortion Vote, Ranked Choice Voting in Missouri and Upcoming Events at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts

‘KRPS Presents’ is also available on Google and Spotify podcasts

It’s common for fewer residents to vote in midterm elections. According to Fairvote.org, the last time midterm and national elections saw a similar percentage of U.S. residents voting in both was in the 1830s. More recently, in 2018, 50% of the voting population cast a ballot during midterms. While in 2020, a national election year, that figure jumped to 66.7%.

Episode 8 of KRPS Presents

This midterm election year, on the Kansas primary ballot, the so-called ‘Value Them Both’ amendment, if approved with 50% plus one vote of the electorate, would allow Kansas lawmakers to alter the state’s constitution to restrict abortion in Kansas. Ashley All with Kansans for Constitutional Freedoms says if voters reject the proposed amendment, the law will remain as ruled by the Kasnas Supreme Court, and abortions will remain legal in Kansas.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom/Value Them Both amendment segment

“If it does not pass, the Constitution stays how it is, and people have a right to personal autonomy, which is what the Kansas Supreme Court found in 2019.”

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court dealt a blow to the state’s overwhelmingly conservative electorate by protecting a woman’s right to an abortion. That decision and election on Tuesday, August 2, now comes under higher scuntity due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that a woman’s right to an abortion is not enriched in the U.S. Constitution. All says that if Kansas voters decline the ballot measure on August 2 the heavily restricted abortion industry in the state will be allowed to remain.

“That we all have a personal right to personal autonomy, which means we can make decisions about healthcare, how we live our lives, how we choose to have families. And part of that was access to abortion care, as needed.”

Because this is a vote on an amendment to the Kansas Constitution, all registered voters will be able to cast a ballot regardless of political affiliation. Click this link to register for more information regarding Kansas’s election calendar.

While Kansans will determine the future of abortion rights, Missouri voters will not get the opportunity to decide whether ranked-choice voting is a good fit for state elections. Better Elections Missouri, the organization backing the measure, could not get the required number of signatures in six of the eight of the state’s constitutional districts.

Scott Charton with Better Election Missouri says that they were unable to gather enough signatures, and if the measure passed, ranked-choice voting would take place in only statewide elections.

Ranked choice voting in Missouri segment
Missouri state flag

“It wouldn’t have affected the presidential election process in the state, nor would it have affected local offices below the office of state legislature.”

Scott estimates that rank-choice voting in Missouri would affect about 213 total offices if approved. While ranked-choice voting hasn’t made its way to Missouri, it is actively being used in other states such as Maine, Alaska, New York, and Utah.

“We have 43 jurisdictions across the United States using rank choice voting in their most recent elections, and more than 50 jurisdictions are projected to use ranked-choice voting in their next elections.”

While RCV may be best known for being used in more Democratic-leaning parts of the U.S., Scott highlights that residents of Utah, a reliably red state, have also chosen to use the system.

“One county and 29 city’s outside of Utah, in Utah alone, 23 Utah city councils in 2021 voted to use ranked-choice voting, and more can do so in municipal elections in 2023.”

But would ranked-choice voting improve elections in Missouri? Scott highlights to start; voters would be able to vote for Democratic and Republican candidates on the same ballot. Also, it would likely force the very extreme sides of both of the two major parties to become more moderate due to an increase of lesser-known parties being able to gain votes and political funding. Scott says this model of elections makes the process of voting easier for everyone.

“So that all voters could vote for any candidate on a single ballot in a combined primary. Now, in Missouri right now, you go to vote, and you’re asked if you want a Republican ballot, a Democratic ballot, a Constitution party ballot, or a Liberation party ballot; those are the recognized parties, or you can get a non-partisan ballot if you want to vote just on ballot measures. This would allow a voter to have all of the candidates listed on one ballot.”

While ranked-choice voting will not appear on the Tuesday, November 8, 2022, ballot during Missouri’s midterm elections, Scott says that Better Elections Missouri is planning on continuing their work on voter reform in hopes of getting the measure on the 2024 ballot.

There is perhaps no better location in southeast Kansas to watch a live concert than Pittsburg State’s Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Recently, the Director of the Bicknell, Joe Firman, stopped by KRPS’s Morning Edition to tell us about a Fourth of July holiday weekend performance by the Kansas National Guard 35th Infantry Band and the Four States Symphonic Winds. Joe says the concert Saturday, July 2, at 7 pm is ticketless and open to the public was months in the making.

The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts

“I got a phone call, probably about five months ago from the Army National Guard here in Kansas and the 35th Infantry band, said hey, can we come down and do a concert around the July 4, and I said, oh my gosh, absolutely, we can’t wait.”

Also, later this summer, the Bicknell Center, in collaboration with Pittsburg, KS based Olive Street Presents, will host the first of two concerts as a part of OSP’s summer and fall 2022 lineup.

Singer/songwriter and rocker Laney Jones will take the stage at the Bicknell’s Miller Theater on July 21; the concert starts at 7 pm.

Olive Street Presents will also welcome Trout Fishing in America to the Miller’s stage on Friday, September 30 at 7 pm.


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