Kansas election official loses job for violating policy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said she is losing her job for violating a policy by remotely accessing the state's voter registration database when working from home while fighting cancer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of State Scott Schwab informed her earlier this month that when her term as election commissioner expires on July 19, he did not intend to appoint her to another term, Lehman said Wednesday in a news release.

Lehman said she “knowingly chose” to violate Schwab’s policy in order to direct a fair and accurate presidential election, and that violation is the rationale for him not reappointing her, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Schwab instituted a policy in March that restricted remote access.

"Subsequent to this policy, I was diagnosed with an aggressive Lymphoma and initiated chemotherapy," she said. "As a result of that diagnosis and ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, I was under medical advice not to go into the office.”

Schwab’s office alternated between rejecting and ignoring her appeals, even though technology experts told her the county’s remote access “was as secure as physically being at my desk," she said.

Schwab responded in a news release that this was “not a hasty decision,” and ultimately decided they could not jeopardize the safety of Kansas election systems to the benefit of one.

His office did not cite any security breaches nor did he question the election results.

“The security of the statewide voter registration system is a top priority of the Secretary of State and is, in no way, under the purview of the Sedgwick County IT officials,” Schwab’ said. “There is never a reason to comprise that system. Unfortunately, Mrs. Lehman thought there was.”