Shawnee County's election commissioner has released the names of voters who cast provisional ballots this week to the candidates in a tight Kansas House race, but the disclosure may not end a legal battle on the issue.
Rep. Ann Mah filed suit Friday to gain access to the names after Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office told county election officials that it was illegal to release them.
Mah trails her Republican challenger, Ken Corbet, by 27 votes. She and other Democrats want to contact provisional voters to ensure they follow through on correcting the problems that forced them to cast provisional ballots in the first place.
When those votes are counted, Mah hopes she can pick up enough votes to win.
Shawnee County Judge Rebecca Crotty ordered the names released, but only to the candidates. Kobach then went to federal court to block the disclosure. He didn't get an order by Friday evening but said he is looking at ways to keep the names from being used.
Kobach's instruction to election officials drew notice because of its timing -- a day after Mah began asking about getting the names -- and because of the bitter political differences between the two.
Mah has criticized a state law championed by Kobach that requires voters to show a photo ID. Campaign finance records show that four days before the election, Prairie Fire, a political action committee set up by Kobach, spent $3,123 on a mailing supporting Corbet.
Kobach said he is concerned about the privacy of voters, and he insisted that the litigation isn't about the Mah-Corbet race.
Mah said her request is not unusual.
"Our understanding is that there has been a longstanding practice of releasing this information for many, many years," she said before the lawsuit was filed.
A Democratic candidate in Wichita filed a similar suit, but Kobach said a judge ruled against releasing the names.