My guess is that your kanban board currently has swimlanes based on epics. This is what is probably the cause of the grouping.
To verify whether this is the case and undo it, go to the configuration of your board. Then, from the options on the left select swimlanes:
Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 17.50.56.png
Probably you will see 'Epics' selected as an option here. You can choose a different grouping option or switch to no swimlanes at all to see all issues on the same board without any horizontal grouping.
Be aware that though that this change impacts everyone using the board.
I should clarify. The tickets are grouped together by epic in the columns. I am not using any swimlanes on this board.
In the image you can see the highlighted ticket is a subticket of a parent/epic named "homepage" but I cant make it a higher priority than the epic above it "account and settings". in fact all tickets that are part of an epic cannot be manually ordered at all. tickets not part of an epic can be vertically moved around to indicate priority but tickets in an epic can only be shown in numerical order. whats up with that?
Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 4.54.35 PM.png
There's one thing that immediately comes to my mind; could you check whether ranking is enabled on your board? You can check this in the general configuration of the board or you can explicitly add 'ORDER BY Rank to the end of your JQL statement - given it isn't there yet already.
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