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Kansas secretary of state appoints new election commissioner for Sedgwick County


Kansas secretary of state appoints new election commissioner for Sedgwick County

Mar 05, 2023 | 11:40 am ET
By Tim Carpenter
Kansas secretary of state appoints new election commissioner for Sedgwick County
Secretary of State Scott Schwab, at the Jan. 9 inauguration in Topeka, appointed Friday a new election commissioner for Sedgwick County. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Secretary of State Scott Schwab selected an economic development administrator to fill a vacancy as Sedgwick County Election Commissioner.

He appointed Laura Rainwater to the post, making her the third person to hold the job since 2021 in the state’s second most populous county. She is a lifelong resident of Sedgwick County and worked as executive director of the Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas and as director of administrative services for the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas.

“Ms. Rainwater is a demonstrated leader with a proven ability to get things done,” said Schwab, who indicated Rainwater had a solid background in public relations, communications and government affairs. “Her experience will be instrumental in working with the county commissioners to ensure a quality election process in Sedgwick County.”

She graduated in 1986 from Wichita State University with a business degree and earned a public manager certification at the University of Kansas.

Schwab interviewed finalists for the job recommended by individuals from the secretary of state’s office and Sedgwick County government.

State law mandates the secretary of state of Kansas take responsibility for appointing commissioners to manage elections in Sedgwick, Johnson, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties. Each of the 101 other counties in Kansas rely on locally elected county clerks to administer elections.

The previous Schwab appointee in Sedgwick County, Angela Caudillo, resigned in December. She was hired in July 2021. She tangled with the Sedgwick County Commission on budget issues and her office printed ballots for the August 2022 primary election that incorrectly spelled words.

In addition, The Clarion newspaper reported in November 2022 that Caudillo’s staff sent the wrong ballots to voters outside Colwich and Garden Plain, which allowed as many as 170 people to cast votes in city elections.

Caudillo took over after Schwab declined to reappoint Tabitha Lehman, who he said violated security protocol by accessing the state’s voter registration database outside of the county office.

Kansas law mandated applicants for these election commission jobs reside in the designated county for two years prior to applying, be at least 18 and registered to vote. Preference was given to candidates with a college degree in business or information technology.