By Diane Silver
For those of you who have been on vacation or are visiting from the far corners of the Earth, here is the first part of a background briefing on our rather interesting election.
1. What is the Kansas Evolution Election?
This year the voters of Kansas are holding what amounts to a referendum on evolution.
The election will determine the fate of four of the six members of the Kansas Board of Education who voted to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in the state's K-12 schools. These are the same board members who have pushed the religious right's agenda into schools in a variety of other ways.
The fate of one moderate board member who has fought the majority's anti-science agenda is also being decided.
A turnaround on the board may well happen. The last time the religious right took control of the Kansas Board and undermined the teaching of evolution and science, they were booted out of office in the next election in 2000.
2. Why should I care?
If you live in Kansas, the future of your children's education rests on the results of this election. The state's reputation and, possibly, its economic future are also at stake. Businesses report difficulty in luring out-of-state employees to what people consider to be a backward state. High School students say they are worrying that colleges might consider their diplomas to be second class.
If you live outside of our wonderful scarlet state, the election is still important. Think of it this way: If the anti-evolution social conservatives can be defeated here, they can be beaten anywhere. Also, if you're facing this kind of attack in your own state, you might want to check out the tactics and arguments being used in Kansas.
3. What are the key dates?
4. When must I register to vote? When can I advance vote?
For the Aug. 1 Primary Advanced Voting by mail and in-person at County Election Offices has already begun.
Alas, it's now too late to register for the primary, but you can still register for the general election.
For the Nov. 7 General Election
October 18 - Advanced Voting begins by mail and in- person at County Election Offices.
October 23 - Last day to register to vote in general election
November 6 -- Advanced voting closes for the general election
For other details on voting see http://www.voteks.org/.
5. Why should I vote in the primary?
(1) Each candidate faces a primary opponent. If the religious radicals get knocked off in the primary, then the balance of power automatically shifts on the state board.
(2) It is no surprise that Kansas is an overwhelmingly Republican state. Often the candidate who wins the GOP primary, automatically wins the vote in November. For example, MAIN*Pac brings word that the race between moderate Sally Cauble and incumbent radical Connie Morris in western Kansas may well be decided in the primary.
Up next: Who's Who in this election.