Kansas Votes - History

Kansas Votes - History

186421,580Abraham Lincoln17,08979.2George McClelan3,836
186843,630Ulysses Grant30,02768.8Horatio Seymour13,60031.2
1872100,512Ulysses Grant66,80566.5Horace Greeley32,97032.8
1876124,134Rutherford Hayes78,32463.1Samuel Tilden37,90230.5
1880201,054James Garfield121,52060.4Winfield Scott59,78929.7
1884250,991Grover Cleveland90,11135.9James Blaine154,41061.5
1888331,133Benjamin Harrison182,84555.2Grover Cleveland102,73931
1892323,591Grover Cleveland156,13448.3Benjamin Harrison162,88850
1896336,085William McKinley159,48447.5William Bryant173,04951.5
1900353,766William McKinley185,95552.6William Bryant162,60146
1904329,047Theo. Roosevelt213,45564.9Alton Parker86,16426.2
1908376,043William Taft197,31652.5William Bryant161,20942.9
1912365,560Woodrow Wilson143,66339.3Theo. Roosevelt120,21032.9
1916629,813Woodrow Wilson314,58849.9Charles Hughes277,65844.1
1920570,243Warren Harding369,26864.8James Cox185,46432.5
1924662,456Calvin Coolidge407,67161.5John Davis156,32023.6
1928713,200Herbert Hoover513,67272Alfred Smith193,00327.1
1932713,200Franklin Roosevelt513,67272Herbert Hoover193,00327.1
1936865,507Franklin Roosevelt464,52053.7Alfred Landon397,72746
1940860,297Franklin Roosevelt364,72542.4Wendell Will489,16956.9
1944733,776Franklin Roosevelt287,45839.2Thomas Dewey442,09660.2
1948788,819Harry Truman351,90244.6Thomas Dewey423,03953.6
1952896,166Dwight Eisenhower616,30268.8Adlai Stevenson273,29630.5
1956866,243Dwight Eisenhower566,87865.4Adlai Stevenson296,31734.2
1960928,825John F Kennedy363,21339.1Richard Nixon561,47460.4
1964857,901Lyndon Johnson464,02854.1Barry Goldwater386,57945.1
1968872,783Richard Nixon478,67454.8Hubert Humphrey302,99634.7
1972916,095Richard Nixon619,81267.7George McGovern270,28729.5
1976957,845Jimmy Carter430,42144.9Gerald Ford502,75252.5
1980979,795Ronald Reagan566,81257.9Jimmy Carter326,15033.3
19841,021,991Ronald Reagan677,29666.3Walter Mondale333,14932.6
1988993,044George Bush554,04955.8Michael Dukais422,63642.6
19921,157,335Bill Clinton390,43433.7George Bush449,95138.9
19961,074,300William Clint387,65936.1Bob Dole583,24554.3
20001,072,218George W Bush622,33258Al Gore399,27637.2
20041,187,756George W Bush736,45662John Kerry434,99336.6
20081,231,653Barack Obama514,76541.8%John McCain699,65556.8%

Women's Suffrage

The first woman's rights convention was held at Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848. A host of issues important to 19th century women were addressed at this meeting, but suffrage (the right to vote) quickly became the cornerstone of the movement. When Kansas Territory was organized six years later, women's issues, and suffrage in particular, were of immediate concern. National leaders saw the newly organized western territories and states as ideal battlegrounds for women's rights in America. Kansas women saw some early victories they gained the right to vote in school district elections in 1861 and municipal elections in 1887. The crusade for equal voting rights, however, continued to elude supporters. In 1912, eight years before the ratification of the national woman suffrage amendment, Kansas became the eighth state to extend equal voting rights to women.

Clarina Nichols, a recognized leader in the women's rights movement, moved from Vermont to Kansas Territory in October 1854. A champion of many other reform causes, Nichols would play an important role at the constitutional convention July 5, 1859. When delegates assembled at Wyandotte to draw up a state constitution, Nichols presented a petition calling for equal political and civil rights for Kansas women.

In 1867 the State Impartial Suffrage Association, led by Governor Crawford, Samuel Wood, and others, campaigned to convince the voters to ratify an amendment that would have granted equal suffrage to women and blacks in Kansas. In a circular issued by the executive committee, Wood called for "impartial suffrage, without regard to sex or color.

But the vote failed in 1867. After this defeat, women turned their attention toward efforts to gain the franchise in municipal elections. The Kansas Equal Suffrage Association led the suffrage campaign. Success in this area finally came early in 1887. In the April elections women captured several local offices. They won all five seats on the Syracuse city council, and Susanna Madora Salter of Argonia was the first woman in the nation to be elected mayor.

With the tide of reform running high during the first two decades of the 20th century, the campaign for woman's suffrage took on new life. On November 5, 1912, Kansas voters finally approved the Equal Suffrage Amendment to the state constitution. With the help of progressives like Republican Governor Walter R. Stubbs, Kansas became the eighth state to grant full suffrage to women.

After gaining equal suffrage through state action for themselves, Kansas women continued to work for a national suffrage amendment. Governor Capper lent his support to their crusade. The national suffrage movement continued through World War I. Finally, on August 8, 1920, the long fought for goal of a national woman's suffrage amendment was achieved. The states ratified the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Governor Allen called a special session of the legislature so that Kansas could act quickly on this issue. Lawmakers ratified the amendment on June 16, less than two weeks after it was proposed by Congress.

Entry: Women's Suffrage

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 2001

Date Modified: July 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.

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Kansas Memory

Our online collections contain more than 500,000 images of photos, documents, and artifacts, which grows daily. Find your story in Kansas through this rich resource!

Kansas chooses its justices using a selection commission. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission selects three potential candidates for placement as a supreme court justice and presents their recommendations to the governor. The governor must then appoint one justice from the list. If a justice is appointed, he must stand for a retention vote after one year. Election to the Kansas Supreme Court gives a term of six years. Ώ]

Chief justice

As designated by the Kansas Constitution, chief justices are appointed according to seniority, and have the responsibility of supervising the court and the "unified judicial department." Ώ]

Nominating commission

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission is composed of representatives from each congressional district and, during times of judicial vacancy, is in charge of compiling a list of potential supreme court justices to present to the governor.


To serve on this court, a judge must:

  • have at least 10 years of active and continuous law practice in the state
  • be at least thirty years old and
  • be no older than 75. If a sitting judge turns 75 while on the bench, he or she may serve out the term. Α]

Removal of justices

Kansas judges, according to Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution, may be removed: by impeachment and conviction, by the supreme court on recommendation of the commission on judicial qualifications, or by the governor due to incapacitation. Β] Γ]

Advance Voting

Q. Do all Kansas counties have to offer advance in-person voting?

A. Yes. State law allows in-person advance voting to begin up to 20 days before election day at county election offices or satellite voting locations. All counties must offer in-person advance voting no later than one week before election day.

Q. Do I have to show photo ID to advance in-person vote?

A. State law requires Kansas voters to show photographic identification when casting a vote in person, this includes voting advance in-person. If the voter does not provide identification or it is not valid, the voter will be issued a provisional ballot.

Q. What is the difference between all mail ballot elections and advance by mail ballots?

A. Kansas only conducts an election entirely by mail, without the use of polling places, in question-submitted elections only. K.S.A. 25-432(d) prohibits all mail elections when a candidate appears on the ballot.

Advance voting by mail has been allowed to all Kansas voters since 1996. You do not need an excuse to advance vote by mail ballot. However, you do need to apply to have an advanced by mail ballot mailed to you for each election as they are NOT mandatory and are sent to voters by county election offices at the request of the voter.

Q. Is it safe to cast an advance by mail ballot?

A. Kansas has several key security provisions in place for verifying the legitimacy of advance by mail ballots and those who cast them. They include:

    requires county election offices compare the signature on the advance by mail ballot application with the signature on voter registration records to verify the voter, and not a third party, requested the advance by mail ballot. If the signatures do not match, the signature may be challenged, and the county election office will contact the voter to verify the signature.
  • Voters must provide the number of their photo identification (e,g., driver’s license) on the advance by mail ballot application. In the event identification information cannot be verified, K.S.A. 25-1122(c) states the applicant must provide a copy of an acceptable form of photographic identification.
  • When a voter has completed their advance by mail ballot, they must sign the outside of the ballot envelope. That signature is then reviewed with voter registration records. If the signatures do not match, the signature may be challenged, and the county election office will contact the voter to verify the signature.

Q. How can I find out the status of my advance by mail ballot application and/or ballot?

A. Voters can call their local election office to check on the status of their advance by mail ballot application and/or ballot. In addition, for the first time, voters can track the status of their advance by mail ballot application and advance by mail ballot online at myvoteinfo.voteks.org for the 2020 elections.

Q. I requested a mail-in ballot for the election. Can I vote in person or do I need to fill out my mail-in ballot?

A. Voters who requested an advance by mail ballot but choose to cast their ballot in person will be given a provisional ballot to ensure they only vote once.

The Last Time A Kansas Gubernatorial Election Was This Close, It Involved Goat Glands

As of Thursday, the Republican primary for Kansas governor was a long way from being decided.

With thousands of provisional ballots left to be counted, it could take weeks for a final tally meanwhile, a clerical error in Thomas County reduced Secretary of State Kris Kobach's lead over Gov. Jeff Colyer to just 91 votes.

While Kobach considered whether he would recuse himself from the vote-counting process in his own election, KCUR looked back to see how many other races for Kansas governor had been so close.

It turns out the hardfought race between Kobach and Colyer wasn't nearly as dramatic as the 1930 election with Dr. John R. Brinkley running as a write-in candidate against Republican Frank Haucke and Democrat Harry Woodring.

Some historians believe that election was stolen from Brinkley by a political enemy who happened to be the state's attorney general.

Brinkley, who everyone called Doc, is now infamous for a scheme in which he implanted impotent men with goat glands. Men would travel from around the country to his hospital in Milford (about ten miles north of Junction City) for the procedure. They could pick out their own goat from Brinkley's herd. (The procedure didn't work.)

Brinkley became a millionaire when he started radio station KFKB (Kansas First, Kansas Best) in the late 1920s. People would mail in descriptions of their ailments and, in a segment called "Medical Question Box," Doc would prescribe a medicine he invented. The scam: people could only fill their prescriptions at pharmacies where Brinkley had contracts to sell the medicine, and he had deals with drug stores all across the Midwest.

He owned a plane and a yacht, and he built a sewage system and a bandstand in Milford. He also sponsered the local baseball team, the Brinkley Goats.

“The late 1920s and early 1930s marked Dr. Brinkley’s high flight,” historian Francis Schruben wrote in Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains. “His manner became grandiose and flamboyant. His striking goatee and his piercing but friendly eyes caught and held attention.”

But his radio station, his medicine, his goat gland operation and his flamboyance didn't sit well with state regulators, and in 1930 the Kansas Board of Regulation and Examination (now the Kansas Board of Healing Arts) siezed his medical license. The Kansas City Star and Emporia Gazettee agitated against him, and the Federal Radio Commission (now the FCC) was ready to close down KFKB.

So Brinkley ran for governor.

“Certainly his reason for entering politics, I think, is pretty clear,” says Kansas historian Virgil Dean. "He wanted to be governor so he could reverse his own fortunes."

Because of his radio shows, Brinkley was wildly popular. If he was governor, Brinkley figured, he could replace the members of the medical board and save his license and his business. He ran as a populist at just the right time.

As Dean notes, “1930 is a really difficult year for the country. It’s a year after the (stock market) crash. The depression is setting in. The ability of opposition candidates to tap into that discontent is very real in Kansas and across the nation.”

A few weeks before the general election, Brinkley took off in his private plane to campaign as a write-in candidate. Some 20,000 people showed up at one stop near Wichita in late October. He also pounded home his populist message on KFKB.

Brinkley promised free school books, old-age pensions and a pond on every farm.

The 1930 race was one of the closest elections in Kansas history. With his write-in campaign, Brinkley got 29.5 percent of the vote Republican Haucke got 34.92 percent Democrat Woodring got 34.96 percent and became governor with a margin of just 251 votes.

However, some historians believe the only reason Brinkley lost was a dubious legal decision by Attorney General William Smith, who was part of the legal team that had stripped Brinkley of his medical license earlier that year.

“A 1923 Kansas statute allowed voter intent, however a name was written in, to be used in determining a ballot’s validity," historian Schruben wrote in his 1991 article. "Nevertheless, Attorney General William Smith dictatorially ruled that separate tallies be kept for ballots” with other variations of Brinkley’s name.

If the ballot didn't read J.R. Brinkley, it was essentially tossed out.

Brinkley never demanded a recount. Some historians speculate that he didn't want to spend the money even though he had plenty of it.

Brinkley ran again in 1932 as an independent. Alf Landon beat him and Woodring in the three-way race — but Brinkley still got 30 percent of the vote.

Brinkley ran against Landon in the 1934 Republican primary but was trounced. After moving his clinic and radio statio to Del Rio, Texas, he contemplated a run for U.S. Senate in his new home state but decided against another political campaign.

Woodring, after his single term as governor, went on to be Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of War. Landon ran for president in 1936 and lost in a landslide to FDR — he didn't even carry Kansas.

Brinkley declared bankruptcy after losing a 1939 libel trial in Texas. The IRS later investigated him for tax fraud and the Post Office open a mail fraud investigation. He died penniless in San Antonio on May 26, 1942.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's metro reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff.

Parts of this story were originally on an episode of Archiver, a history podcast series hosted by Sam.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Friday, after Kobach said he would recuse himself from the vote-counting process.

How Do I&hellip

  • Kansas Dome The state legislature approved the dome in 1881 and construction began in 1885. The outer copper dome extends approximately 75 feet above the inner dome. There are 296 steps to the top of the dome. More >
  • Ad Astra "Ad Astra per Aspera," from the Latin for "To the Stars through Difficulties" is the state motto of Kansas. Richard Bergen's bronze sculpture takes its name from this motto and and reflects Kansas's American Indian heritage. More >
  • Kansas House of Representatives The House of Representatives is home to the state legislators who are elected every two years and was completed in the early 1880s. This was the second of the Capitol's four wings to be completed. More >
  • Kansas Senate The Kansas Senate has 40 members elected every four years. The Senate Chamber is located in the east wing, the oldest wing of the Capitol, completed in 1873. The latest renovation was completed in 2005. More >
  • Kansas State Capitol, Topeka The Kansas State Capitol was voted one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture because our forefathers had the vision and boldness to have such a magnificent structure designed. More >
  • John Steuart Curry Mural "Tragic Prelude," is Curry's interpretation of John Brown and the anti-slavery movement in Kansas Territory and he considered the murals in the State Capitol his greatest work. More >

Hollywood’s Take on ‘Kansas City’

The violence served the film’s plot, representing a distraction to law enforcement that allowed the kidnapping to play out at length, said Frank Barhydt, the Kansas City native who, with director Robert Altman, wrote the screenplay.

“That was one of the things we liked -– the election and everything that went wrong,” Barhydt said.

“Altman and I were both reading ‘Tom’s Town’ at the time,” Barhydt added, referring to the 1947 book by former Kansas City Star reporter William M. Reddig that chronicled the machine’s reign.

Barhydt, himself a former Star reporter, also made use of a unique asset -– the newspaper’s telephone archive service that solicited reader input.

About 100 readers dialed in and left recorded recollections.

Barhydt listened to all of them, as did Jennifer Jason Leigh, the actor who portrayed “Blondie,” the Jean Harlow-obsessed telegraph operator who kidnaps the lawyer’s wife in an attempt to see her hoodlum husband, held by other gangsters, released.

“You got a pretty good sense of peoples’ lives during those years,” Barhydt said. “One thing I picked up was how Kansas City was a wide-open town, in the sense that anything could happen.”

One reality was the random, sudden violence that Kansas City residents sometimes had to accommodate. What came to be called the Union Station Massacre in June 1933 had left four lawmen dead as well as the criminal they had been escorting to prison.

In the film “Kansas City,” machine hoodlums assault and shoot an election observer. But, arguably, the film underplays the violence of March 27, 1934. Among the four people killed at polling stations was P.W. Oldham, a 78-year-old hardware dealer who was locking up his store in the 5800 block of Swope Parkway as shooting began.

“I shall never vote again,” a niece of Oldham was quoted as saying. “Who can we trust? What can we believe in after this?

“This was not an election. This was war.”

In other mayhem thugs assaulted a reform candidate for the Kansas City Council, shot up the car of a Star reporter before chasing him back to the newspaper building, and beat the chauffeur of the Star’s editor.

That August, Harry Truman, who had just served eight years as Jackson County Presiding Judge, won the state’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary. Of the approximately 148,000 votes cast in Kansas City, about 137,000 were cast for Truman, according to Robert Ferrell, author of the 1994 book, “Harry S. Truman: A Life.”

Having survived the primary, Truman easily won the general election that November.

“The work of the Kansas City machine was heroic,” Ferrell wrote.

As a once-again divided nation votes, Kansas history shows one way forward

The Quindaro Ruins Overlook in Kansas City, Kansas, was dedicated on Juneteenth in 2008. A plaque reads: "Quindaro must live on in our hearts forever. The area, once mighty, also serves as a reminder of man’s mortality and of our quest for freedom, dignity and above all humanity. As the freedmen and the Exodusters passed through this place, there rang a commonality through their voices: that no man shall be subjected to slavery and that all men are free!" (C.J. Janovy/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas is graced with countless places to reflect on the arc of history.

We can look back 80 million years at Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park, which opened last October near Scott City, and similar spots like the Castle Rock Badlands and Monument Rocks, all places where 70-foot-tall chalky formations testify to the days when western Kansas was under an ocean.

Sometimes I need that kind of spiritual reminder that all we are is dust in the wind.

Other times, when I need a reminder of how humans overcome their worst situations, I head to the top of a bluff in Kansas City, Kansas.

There, a quiet street rises past the site of the old Western University, an esteemed college for Black students (it began in 1865 as Freedman’s University) that closed in 1943. Its historical marker is tenuously guarded by a John Brown statue that’s seen more than its share of defacement.

A life-sized statue of John Brown at the end of North 27th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, was dedicated in 1911 at what was then Western University. (C.J. Janovy/Kansas Reflector)

At the end of this road is the Quindaro Ruins Overlook, a slab of roofed concrete where I can spend a few moments looking out across the Missouri River or, if I’m feeling brave, tromp down a path to the site of the old Quindaro township, established in the 1850s, which became a stop on the Underground Railroad:

Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols recalls that many slaves took the Underground Railroad at Quindaro for the interior of the territory and freedom. Just west of town in the bottom land was the home of a bachelor who was dedicated to 'emancipation without proclamation,' so that his place was called 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' by the residents. Of the many slaves who took refuge there, only one was ever taken back to Missouri and many escaped to the comparative safety of the interior. She told the story of a poor fellow who escaped from near Parkville. On learning he had been sold South, he had tried to get away but was caught and manacled. Another slave assisted him and he managed to draw one foot out of the encircling iron, bringing with him the chain attached to the other foot. Afraid to take a boat at Parkville, they found an old dugout, paddled up the river for ten miles before they could steal a boat, then drifted down to Quindaro. A few days later in two large dry goods boxes they were freighted to Lawrence. If they could get by Six-Mile tavern, the critical part of the journey was past. – Alan W. Farley, Annals of Quindaro: A Kansas Ghost Town

Everyone has their sacred places in Kansas. This is one of mine. I come here once a year or so, to just stand on what feels like hallowed ground, looking out over to Missouri and thinking about what it must have been like to cross that river.

Usually no one’s there when I visit — but I know others have been there if for no other reason than some bright orange spray-paint scrawls on the concrete floor. Last week, someone was walking far down the path below.

A path leads from the overlook down to the site of what once was Quindaro. At right, a lone walker on the path in late October 2020. (C.J. Janovy/Kansas Reflector)

Last February, the Quindaro Ruins earned designation as a national commemorative site — not the prestige of a national historic landmark, but a lot better than a landfill, which was once planned for the hillside. Rescuing the site from what was then Browning Ferris Industries and getting some of the ruins preserved and an overlook built has been a decades-long effort by a handful of local activists and advocates, Marvin S. Robinson II among the most dedicated.

Considering the momentousness of this week, during another time of extreme division, it felt like a good time to revisit these ruins. First, I called Robinson.

“These people sacrificed everything they had,” Robinson said, referring not just to the people who escaped slavery but everyone who helped them: members of the women’s suffrage movement and the New England Immigrant Aid Company and Wyandot Indians who allocated land — all groups putting their money and their bodies into the effort, at no small physical risk.

“And the African fugitives had the sweat equity,” Robinson continued. “It doesn’t get more Americana than that.”

The name Quindaro was a Wyandot word for a “bundle of sticks,” taken to mean “in union there is strength.”

“We are at a brutal crossroads, and no matter what happens in the election, we still have to figure out how we want to go forward as a nation from all elements and corridors,” Robinson said.

“There’s so much to learn from lessons of the past,” he said. “We don’t have to go reinvent the wheel. We need to go forward like never before. Everybody needs to roll up their sleeves.”

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Section Summary

The application of popular sovereignty to the organization of the Kansas and Nebraska territories ended the sectional truce that had prevailed since the Compromise of 1850. Senator Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act opened the door to chaos in Kansas as proslavery and Free-Soil forces waged war against each other, and radical abolitionists, notably John Brown, committed themselves to violence to end slavery. The act also upended the second party system of Whigs and Democrats by inspiring the formation of the new Republican Party, committed to arresting the further spread of slavery. Many voters approved its platform in the 1856 presidential election, though the Democrats won the race because they remained a national, rather than a sectional, political force.

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