TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican legal professional normal in Kansas has urged the state’s most populous county to postpone a legally required destruction of previous ballots as a result of the sheriff there says his investigation of attainable election crimes stays open though it is led to no felony prices in two years.

Legal professional Common Kris Kobach, an early supporter of former President Donald Trump who has for years described election fraud as a severe situation, despatched a letter Wednesday to the election commissioner in Johnson County within the Kansas Metropolis space. Kobach stated officers ought to protect ballots from 2019, 2020 and 2021 though state regulation required all of them to be destroyed by the autumn of 2022.

“Permitting the Sheriff’s Workplace to finish its investigation is within the curiosity of justice and supplies the general public with confidence within the integrity of their electoral system and election outcomes,” Kobach wrote in his letter, which grew to become public Thursday.

The county has but to destroy the previous ballots as a result of Sheriff Calvin Hayden has stated he acquired scores of tips on potential irregularities beginning within the fall of 2021 and remains to be investigating. Hayden, a Republican, has questioned the integrity of the county’s 2020 elections and in the summertime of 2022 participated in a convention for a gaggle that promotes a doubtful concept that sheriffs have nearly unchecked energy of their counties.

With no proof of serious issues within the county’s elections — and none statewide — the Johnson County Fee took a step earlier this month towards the destruction of previous ballots by permitting its chair to nominate a Democratic and a Republican observer. Hayden then requested for officers to proceed preserving them, County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara stated throughout a gathering.

Hayden’s workplace stated Thursday that its investigation is ongoing however declined additional remark.

The legal professional normal’s letter didn’t say whether or not he would file a lawsuit or pursue another step ought to election officialis transfer forward with destroying the ballots. His workplace didn’t instantly reply to an e mail asking questions concerning the letter.

Baseless conspiracy theories have circulated broadly amongst Republicans because the 2020 elections and prompted the GOP-controlled state Legislature to tighten election laws within the identify of restoring public confidence. Trump additionally continues to falsely claim that he received the 2020 election, and Hayden has stated he started to query the beforehand solidly Republican county’s elections when Trump misplaced there. The county’s politics have become more Democratic over time — partially due to some suburban voters’ distaste for Trump.

Kobach served as Kansas secretary of state from 2011 by 2018 and served because the vice chairman of a short-lived Trump presidential fee on election fraud. He additionally championed powerful voter ID legal guidelines, one in all which required new voters to indicate papers documenting their U.S. citizenship when registering and was struck down by the federal courts.

Kobach’s successor as secretary of state, Republican Scott Schwab, declined to remark Thursday, although Schwab has strongly defended the integrity of the state’s elections. Elections in 101 of the state’s 105 counties are run by elected county clerks, however the secretary of state appoints election commissioners within the 4 most populous ones. Schwab appointed Johnson County’s Fred Sherman in 2020.

Johnson County Fee Chair Mike Kelly stated Schwab’s workplace would supervise the destruction of ballots and stated in a press release Thursday that it has “deferred this matter” to Schwab. Sherman didn’t instantly return a phone message looking for remark.

The battle in Kansas’ most populous county comes after activists who imagine Trump’s elections lies challenged voter registrations from the 2020 elections throughout the U.S. at the same time as county election officials were preparing for the autumn 2022 elections.

Kansas regulation requires election officers to destroy the ballots for native elections after six months, except a outcome nonetheless is being contested. Ballots in state and nationwide elections should be destroyed after 22 months. Beneath that rule, the ballots for the November 2020 election had been to have been destroyed in September 2022.

However Kobach wrote in his letter that he’s involved that destroying the ballots would hinder Hayden’s investigation.

“The preservation of any potential proof is essential to the integrity of this investigation, and the proof needs to be retained till the case is formally closed and any and all ensuing defendants are prosecuted,” Kobach wrote.

One situation for county election officers throughout the U.S. in preserving previous ballots previous their destruction date is area, however Kobach wrote in his letter that Hayden’s workplace “is ready to present safe cupboard space.”

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