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The secretary of state is one of only four state officers authorized by the Kansas Constitution. The secretary of state is elected statewide and serves a four-year term, beginning on the second Monday of January following his or her election. There are no qualifications to run for secretary of state, and there are no term limits for the office.

Secretary of State seal image
Seal of the Secretary of State's office
Photo courtesy of the Secretary of State's office

Duties of the Secretary of State

The Person

As authorized by Kansas statutes, the secretary of state is a member of the State Board of Canvassers, State Election Board, State Objections Board and State Rules and Regulations Board, and is a member of the governing board of the Information Network of Kansas. State law also authorizes the secretary of state to appoint a member to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission and to appoint an election commissioner in each of the four most populous Kansas counties: Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte.

The Office

Although the Kansas Constitution created the office, its direction and duties are defined by state law. The office has numerous and diverse statutory duties - more than 600 - but the major divisions within the office stem from three primary statutory duties:

  • administration of elections;
  • administration of Kansas business entity laws; and
  • administration of the uniform commercial code.

The office is a fee-funded agency, which means its operating budget is financed through user fees for various services instead of tax dollars.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure of the office is determined to a large extent by state statutes that provide for the appointment of an assistant secretary of state and up to five deputy assistants. Three of the deputy assistants supervise the administration, business services, and elections divisions, one of whom also serves as chief of staff, and a fourth deputy assistant provides legal counsel. The secretary of state also has an executive assistant, a chief information officer, and a public affairs director.

Administration Division

The Administration Division provides operating services for the entire office, including accounting, payroll, human resources, legal, information technology, public affairs, and procurement. Other division duties include the filing of the governor’s executive appointments, directives, orders and proclamations; filing papers regarding watershed and drainage districts; shipping of law books; and securing storage facilities for the agency.

The Administration Division also is responsible for the preparation and publication of various legal publications, such as the weekly Kansas Register, the state’s official newspaper; the Kansas Administrative Regulations, a compilation of the rules and regulations adopted by state agencies; and the Sessions Laws of Kansas, a compilation of the state laws enacted each legislative session.

In addition, the division administers the Safe at Home program, an address confidentiality program that provides a substitute address and a free mail forwarding system for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking.

Business Services Division

The Business Services Division files and maintains electronic and paper records of corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships and general partnerships; issues authority to foreign entities to conduct business in Kansas; and files and maintains subsequent documents such as mergers, dissolutions, cancellations, withdrawals, and annual reports. Additionally, charitable organizations, professional fund raisers, solicitors, trademarks and service marks are filed in the division.

The division also files original Uniform Commercial Code financing transactions and subsequent amendments, both electronically and on paper. The division maintains financing statements where debtors and creditors agree that certain property will be considered as collateral to secure a debt.

Over the last ten years, the number of incoming phone calls has decreased from 500 a day to roughly 125 a day by making more information available online. In 2012 the secretary of state made more than 2,000,000 business entity records available on the Internet for the first time.

Other division duties include appointing notaries public and auditing certain cemetery permanent maintenance trust funds and merchandise and preneed burial services and products funds. The division assists numerous walk-in customers daily, and opens all agency mail.

Elections & Legislative Matter Division

The Elections and Legislative Matters Division is responsible for the administration of all national and state elections - working with each of the 105 county election officers - and maintains a statewide voter registration database. Candidates for national and state offices and for state judicial positions must file with this office. The division is a repository for campaign receipt and expenditure reports of state candidates and financial disclosure statements of state officers and certain state employees. The division also conducts census adjustments for redistricting purposes.

Other main functions of the division include the distribution and sale of Kansas Statutes Annotated, Kansas Administrative Regulations, Session Laws of Kansas, and permanent journals of the House and Senate. The division also files all enrolled legislative bills; registers lobbyists, issues their badges and files their expenditure reports; and sells Kansas flags.