Dodge City, KS Lawyers Up After Lone Polling Site is Moved Out of Dodge

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

“A former George W. Bush White House official who was found by the Inspector General to have lied to Congress and violated federal law when hiring for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has been hired as outside counsel by Ford County and the Ford County Clerk’s Office. Why? To handle the ongoing controversy surrounding the removal of a lone polling location from the Hispanic majority city of Dodge City, Kansas,” Law & Crime reported Monday.

According to The Wichita Eagle, the iconic Dodge City “located 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of Wichita has only one polling site for its 27,000 residents,” which has been located at a local civic center “just blocks from the local country club – in the wealthy, white part of town” since 2002. Until then, Dodge City had multiple locations.

Dodge City is one of Kansas’ only majority-minority counties whose population is now recorded at 60 percent Hispanic.

“The Republican Party officials insist their hands are tied.”

The city’s lone polling location has been handling 13,00 voters per site “compared to an average of 1,200 voters per site at other locations” within the state, according to the Kansas ACLU executive director Micah Kubic.

Democrat Party chairman of Ford county Johnny Dunlap said their database of Hispanic turnout “during non-presidential elections is just 17 percent compared to 61 percent” of whites in 2014, which is well below the 27 percent national average for that year. Dunlap said that 27 percent “in itself was low for the country according to the Pew Research Center.”

The single voting site instituted over the past decade at the Civic Center has flaws, but the replacement single voting location for the Nov. 6 general election – the Western State Bank Expo Center south of Dodge City – is worse.

Freight trains bisecting the city could keep people from reaching the polls, and “meaningful notice” has not been provided in either English or Spanish to adequately inform voters of the change in polling location, according to an ACLU of Kansas email to Cox.

The Hutchinson News; Oct 14 2018

Law & Crime reports that Bryan Caskey, the Kansas Elections Director, “who was appointed by and works directly under [Kris] Kobach’s authority, said the county had to move the polling location due to construction in the area.”

For background on Kris Koback see TNB here, here, here, and here.

According to Dunlap, when he contacted Debbie Cox to try to get her to increase locations, she “flatly refused,” saying that “it wasn’t in her budget.” Dunlap alleges this is all purposeful. Cox, as County Clerk, “makes her own budget.”

Since the ACLU has stepped in Kubic said they have done what Cox should have and contacted School Superintendent Dr. Fred Dierksen “about using additional school buildings” for voting locations. At this point, it doesn’t appear to be an option for voters at this time.

In a statement made Friday, Kubic said that despite Cox “declining” to meet with them, they were “pleased to learn” that “Cox has begun addressing some of her constituent’s concerns by notifying Dodge City residents of the location of the new polling site and suddenly offering free Election Day bus rides.” People are required to call ahead to “schedule a ride” and the rides are only available “on a first-come/first-served basis.”

Monday, the Dodge City Daily Globe reports that, “with a pending American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, Ford County and the Ford County Clerk’s Office has found outside counsel,” according to J.D. Gilbert, Ford County Administrator, and that “all related media requests” will be referred to “Bradley Schlozman an attorney with the Hinkle Law Firm in Wichita, Kansas.”

Schlozman was at the center of a controversy of his own making back in the early 2000s, when some of his emails came under the scrutiny of Congress. He was a person who hired for positions at the Civil Rights Division. From CBS News at the time:

Schlozman evidently made no secret of his agenda in personnel matters. Andrew Lelling, a former counsel to Boyd, told investigators that Schlozman “was always very unapologetically clear about the kind of people he wanted hired into the Department. … [H]e want[ed] people in the Department who [were] conservative on the legal issues, maybe conservative period.”

In e-mails Schlozman would make frequent use of descriptions like “real American,” “right-thinking American,” “fine young [A]mericans,” and being “a member of the team” to refer to conservative applicants and attorneys. Conversely, applicants or attorneys who were viewed as not conservative would be described as “commies,” “libs,” “pinkos,” “not one of us,” “not on the team,” and “adherents of Mao’s little red book.” He said one attorney was “a Democrat in hiding and is not going to hide in my Appellate Section.”

In another email from 2003, he reportedly said “My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs rights out of the section.”

Law & Crime

Schlozman did not respond back to Law & Crime’s request for a comment.

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