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story.lead_photo.caption Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer speaks Wednesday at the statehouse in Topeka. He has accused his primary opponent of giving county election officials advice that was “inconsistent with Kansas law.”

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer demanded Thursday that Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who holds a minuscule lead over him in the Republican primary, stop advising the state's counties on how to handle still uncounted ballots.

A close contest between the embattled governor and a conservative lightning rod took an acrimonious turn with Colyer accusing Kobach of giving county election officials advice "inconsistent with Kansas law." It also came with Kobach's lead shrinking and questions about the results his office posted online.

Kobach's lead dwindled Thursday to 121 votes, out of more than 311,000 ballots cast. It had been 191 votes, but one county discovered that the tally of its results on the secretary of state's website mistakenly shorted Colyer's total by 100, while another reported different figures for both candidates.

The counting is not complete because state law says mail-in ballots that are postmarked Tuesday can be accepted by the counties as late as today.

Colyer released a letter after his campaign announced that it had set up a "voting integrity" hotline and urged people to report their complaints about the election.

"It has come to my attention that your office is giving advice to county election officials -- as recently as a conference call yesterday -- and you are making public statements on national television which are inconsistent with Kansas law and may serve to suppress the vote in the ongoing primary election process," Colyer said in his letter.

As secretary of state, Kobach is the state's top elections official, setting rules, giving county officials guidance and appointing election commissioners in the state's four most populous counties.

Late Thursday, facing questions from CNN host Chris Cuomo, Kobach said he will remove himself from the further counting of votes. But, he said, the move will be "symbolic."

Kobach told reporters Wednesday that he knew of no significant reports of irregularities in Tuesday's primaries, outside of long delays in reporting results from the state's most populous county. There, Johnson County in the Kansas City area, results were delayed by problems with uploading data from new voting machines.

But the totals for the GOP primary for the governor's race in two western Kansas counties posted on the secretary of state's website did not match the totals from the counties themselves.

First, in Thomas County, the unofficial results posted on the secretary of state's website show Kobach winning there with 466 votes to Colyer's 422. But the tally posted by the Thomas County clerk's office shows Colyer with 522 votes, or 100 votes more, a number the clerk confirmed Thursday.

And in Haskell County, the tally changed from 110 to 103 in Kobach's favor to 257 to 220 in Kobach's favor. That was a net gain of 30 for Kobach.

A Section on 08/10/2018

Print Headline: Butt out of vote count, Kansas governor tells foe

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