Monday, January 27, 2014

Kansas Young Republican Straw Poll Stirs Controversy on Social Media

The Kansas Young Republicans held a straw poll at the Kansas GOP Convention over the weekend.  Milton Wolf's campaign was quick to latch onto the results claiming they tied Senator Pat Roberts.

Not-so-fast says KYR Chairman Brandon Kenig.  "[T]he straw poll we conducted at the convention was not a representative poll, and rules were not followed to ensure accuracy and reliability of votes cast and counted," a written statement posted to Facebook said.  "We acknowledge and take full responsibility for mistakes that were made."

Kenig says the organization notified the Wolf campaign numerous times before the event that voting was only open to Young Republican members, but his campaign continued to promote the event to their supporters.

Kenig also said the electronic system the KYR setup for participants to cast votes broke down.  By the time they switched to paper ballots, many who had cast previous ballots had left and were not able to re-cast their vote.  He also said they had no way to verify the membership of attendees and what was meant to be a closed poll turned into an open one.

For those reasons the organization chose not to release the results of the poll.

Lee Modesitt, vice-chair of KYR, called Wolf's campaign tactics questionable and disingenuous.

Leroy Towns, campaign manager for Senator Roberts, alleges the Wolf campaign brought in outsiders in an effort to stuff the ballot.  “Wolf’s staff packed the meeting. It’s a fraud... it’s not legitimate. Straw polls are never very legitimate but this is much worse than most."

In Wolf's defense, Michelle Hucke, secretary of KYR, broke with her colleagues.  She says there was no rule the poll was only open to KYR members and that anyone who wanted to cast a ballot could and did.  Hucke's job at the event was to watch the ballot box and insure only proper votes were cast. “I am completely offended at the accusations that this straw poll wasn’t conducted properly," she said.

According to sources the poll ended in a 17-17 tie between Wolf and Roberts.  The small turnout seems to refute the idea the Wolf campaign tried to "stuff" the ballot box with non-members.  At the same time, a paltry 17 votes isn't much to cheer about.

In 2010, nearly a hundred thousand Republicans cast a ballot in the Senate primary.  Wolf has a long, long way to go if he hopes to unseat Roberts.

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