Kansas Constitutional Amendment 2, County Sheriff Election and Recall Amendment (2022)What is the Sheriff Election Amendment?
The amendment would require counties that elected sheriffs in January 2022 continue to elect sheriffs. In simpler terms, a sheriff couldn’t be an appointed position and would remain elected by the county voters.
The amendment also would stipulate that county sheriffs can only be removed from office by a recall election or if the attorney general challenges their right to hold office. This change would take away the ability of local district attorneys to investigate the actions of sheriffs.
Sheriffs are elected to four-year terms in Kansas. Under state law, voters can recall a sheriff by submitting a petition containing the signatures of at least 40% of voters in the most recent sheriff election. After the signatures are approved, a recall election is held.
Currently, district attorneys, along with the attorney general, can initiate legal proceedings if they believe there’s been misconduct in a sheriff’s office. The attorney can then bring the case to a judge, who would ultimately decide whether or not there has been misconduct. The amendment would move the responsibility of the ouster procedure to the Attorney General’s Office. Thus, conflicts of interest would be eliminated.
The Kansas Sheriffs’ Association said the amendment would give voters more power and allow them to hold sheriffs directly accountable for their actions. In testimony submitted by the association in March, the association said Kansans should be allowed to elect their sheriffs.
What you will see on the ballot:
Shall the following be adopted?
§ 2. County and township officers. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), each county shall elect a sheriff for a term of four years by a majority of the qualified electors of the county voting thereon at the time of voting designated for such office pursuant to law in effect on January 11, 2022, and every four years thereafter.
(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to a county that abolished the office of sheriff prior to January 11, 2022. Such county may restore the office of sheriff as provided by law and such restoration shall be irrevocable. A county that restores the office of sheriff shall elect a sheriff by a majority of the qualified electors of the county voting thereon for a term of four years. Such sheriff shall have such qualifications and duties as provided by law. The time of voting for the office of sheriff may be provided for by the legislature pursuant to section 18 of article 2 of this constitution.
(c) The filling of vacancies and the qualifications and duties of the office of sheriff shall be as provided by law.
(d) The legislature shall provide forsuch other county and townshipofficers as may be necessary.
§ 5. Removal of officers. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), all county and township officers may be removed from office, in such manner and for such cause, as shall be prescribed by law.
(b) A county sheriff only may be involuntarily removed from office by recall election pursuant to section 3 of article 4 of this constitution or a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general.
How to interpret this:
This amendment would preserve the right of citizens of each county to continue electing their county sheriff.
YES - A vote for this proposition would preserve the right of citizens of each county that elected a county sheriff as of January 11, 2022, to continue electing the county sheriff via popular vote. The amendment would also direct that a county sheriff only may be involuntarily removed from office pursuant to either a recall election or a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general.
NO - A vote against this proposition would not make any changes to the constitution and would retain current law concerning the election of a sheriff and the procedures for the involuntary removal of a sheriff from office.
An interesting side note: This amendment would not apply to Riley County, the only county in Kansas without a sheriff’s office. Riley county abolished its sheriff’s office after consolidating city and county agencies in 1974. Wallace County Sheriff’s Office contracts with the City of Sharon Springs to provide services on a city level as well as perform their county duties.
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