Kansas state government has been mercifully free of Kris Kobach for the past couple of years, but the former secretary of state and failed gubernatorial (and senatorial) candidate’s malign influence lingers.


Take the case of state Sen. Julia Lynn. Earlier this month she asked for her name to be removed from the general election ballot because of her sister’s illness. The secretary of state’s office blocked her request because of its rigorous interpretation of a state law requiring a doctor’s note for such a withdrawal.


Thankfully a Shawnee County judge soon put things right and allowed Lynn to withdraw from the election (it came down to who had written what on the note, doctor or nurse).


But it’s worth looking at how we got here, and how partisan politicking can poison the well for everyone, not just your political opponents. As secretary of state, Kobach had called for this law after the withdrawal of Chad Taylor from the U.S. Senate race in 2014. You might recall this election as the one in which independent candidate Greg Orman put the fear of God into Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.


Republicans very much wanted Taylor to remain on the ballot, because they surmised that his presence would prevent voters from coalescing around Orman. Kobach threw his full, nettlesome weight behind the effort but couldn’t stop the courts from allowing Taylor’s exit.


So here we are six years later, dealing with a law motivated by political pique. Republicans passed a bill making it incredibly difficult to withdraw from elections in the state. Now it threatened to harm the process of replacing a Republican candidate.


As the saying goes, whoops.


Next session, the Legislature should sit down, take a look at the statute and start over. With Kobach’s influence on the wane, lawmakers should figure out if it's really important to have such strict limits on withdrawals from races. If it is, they should work to clearly define a process that allows for candidates in cases like Lynn’s to withdraw without asking a judge to intervene.


That’s only right and fair and just. And while partisan politics might be difficult to avoid, let’s make an effort when it comes to candidates’ lives.