Communication, transparency key for newly-appointed election commissioner

Kansas Sec. of State Scott Schwab announced long-time Sedgwick County resident Laura Rainwater as his appointment to take over the county’s election office.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 11:49 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab on Friday announced long-time Sedgwick County resident Laura Rainwater as his appointment to take over the county’s election office within the next couple of weeks.

With many questions about the election process nationwide and threats against election officials, 12 News spoke with Rainwater about her plans as she takes on her new posts.

“The key is communication and being transparent with our voters,” Rainwater said.

A big concern amongst some voters are at the ballot box. Rainwater addressed how she plans to reassure them that voting options are secure.

“Having worked the elections and seeing the use of drop boxes, I know they are safe. That’s a mandate that comes from the secretary of state. It’s in the law that we have to use them,” Rainwater said. “I’m okay with that. I will uphold whatever the state statutes require.”

In Kansas, Rainwater said she hasn’t seen voter fraud with stuffing of ballots.

With working to make the election process as smooth and transparent as it can be, another challenge Rainwater addressed is recruiting enough election workers. Pay is a significant factor.

“Until I get in there and analyze the budget, I don’t know what the right pay will be,” she said.

There is already a solution to address busy polling locations.

“This year, we have to redraw the precinct boundary lines so there is not so much disparity between polling sites, hopefully add some more polling sites so the polling sites aren’t overwhelmed like they were in the (Aug. 2022) primary,” Rainwater said.

Regarding concerns nationwide with election officials being the subjects of threats and harassment, Rainwater expressed confidence in Sedgwick County’s leadership.

“I know I have great county support, from county officials, the sheriff,” she said. “If that does occur, it will be reported immediately and I know the county will provide me the protection if that does happen.”

Rainwater said for her and her approach to her new post, it’s all about relationships.

“Where I excel as a leader of this organization is my ability to collaborate and communicate, and it’s my relationships. There is nothing more important than relationships you form,” she said.