WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman announced Wednesday on her Twitter that she would not be reappointed to another term by Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab.
Lehman, who was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2020, says back in March of last year (around the time she was diagnosed) the Secretary of State’s office emailed a policy directive regarding the way the statewide voter registration may be accessed from within the county network. This directive restricted remote access, including county provided VPN connectivity.
Because of Lehman’s diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic, she was under medical advice to not go into the office.
“I submitted several appeals to the Secretary of State’s office requesting exception to the policy due to the risk of my health and looming presidential election,” said Lehman. “In each case, my appeal was either rejected or went without reply.”
The statement goes on to say Lehman then knowingly chose to violate the policy of the Secretary of State in order to direct a fair and accurate presidential election.
“That violation of policy is the rationale for not reappointing me,” explained Lehman.
Lehman’s term is set to expire on July 19, 2021. To see Lehman’s full statement, click here.
KSN reached out to the Secretary of States’ office, they released the statement below.
The Kansas Secretary of State confirmed this evening that Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman will not be retained when her term expires in July 2021.
“The Secretary of State places the highest priority on maintaining the safety and security of Kansas elections. The security of our elections systems and the personal information of Kansans will not be put at risk, regardless of the circumstances,” said Secretary of State Scott Schwab.
The Office confirmed Secretary Schwab met with Mrs. Lehman on January 5 to notify her of the reasoning to not reappoint. At the time, Mrs. Lehman agreed with the course of action and admitted to ignoring statewide security protocols for accessing the Kansas voter registration database from home.
“This was not a hasty decision,” said Secretary Schwab. “We understand the difficult circumstances election officials encountered throughout the fall. Ultimately, we could not jeopardize the safety of Kansas elections systems to the benefit of one.”
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 Sedgwick County IT officials. There is never a reason to compromise that system.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Lehman thought there was.
“We had hoped the circumstances in announcing Mrs. Lehman’s departure would have been on a positive note. Unfortunately, today’s actions have made it necessary to correct the record. Nonetheless, we thank Commissioner Lehman for her service and wish her well on her future endeavors,” said Schwab.