Kansas Amendment 2 would require most county sheriffs to be elected

On Nov. 8, Kansas voters will decide on a ballot measure, Amendment 2, to require the election of county sheriffs in counties that had not abolished the office as of January 2022 and provide that sheriffs may be recalled from office or removed by a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general. Currently, only one county, Riley County, of the state’s 105 counties does not have a sheriff. Amendment 2 would provide that the other 104 counties cannot eliminate their elected sheriff’s office.

Under current state law, voters can also recall a sheriff by submitting a petition containing valid signatures equal to at least 40% of the voters who voted in the last sheriff election.

The amendment has received support from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), Kansas Sheriffs Association, and Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Attorney General Schmidt said, “The office of sheriff has deep historical roots, and the longstanding practice of election rather than appointment makes sheriffs uniquely accountable to the people. I commend the large bipartisan majorities in the Legislature for giving Kansas voters the opportunity to enshrine the elected office of sheriff in our state constitution, and I look forward to supporting and campaigning for this amendment this fall.”

The amendment is opposed by State Representatives Sydney Carlin (D), Mike Dodson (R), and Dennis Highberger (D), as well as Kurt Moldrup, the interim director of the Riley County Police Department. State Rep. Michael Dodson (R) said, “If a county wishes to have a sheriff, that’s a great choice. Likewise, if a county wishes to consolidate, they should be able to do that.”

Kansas voters will also be deciding on another constitutional amendment on Nov. 8 to authorize the state legislature to revoke or suspend an executive agency’s rules and regulations by a simple majority vote.

From 1995 through 2022, the state legislature referred 11 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected three of the referred amendments.