TOPEKA — Officials and voting rights groups are reminding Kansas voters that advance voting begins this week, as early as Wednesday in some counties.
Races include primaries for governor, state and U.S. representatives, along with the state constitutional amendment regarding abortion. For those who have registered and requested advance ballots, those will be mailed out beginning Wednesday, and in-person advance voting will begin in some areas.
Residents must be registered to vote online or in-person for the Aug. 2 primary before the end of the day Tuesday, July 12, if they would like to have their voices heard in August.
Lindsay Ford, associate director at The Voter Network of the Mainstream Coalition, urged all Kansans to check their registration even if they are a longtime Kansas voter.
“If you’ve changed addresses or moved — and a lot of people moved in the pandemic — you’ll need to re-register at your new address,” Ford said. “If you have changed your name, you’ll need to re-register with your new name. And we always want to check if students or young people who are transient are registered in the right place.”
Douglas County is the first county to open advance in-person voting and by-mail voting, on Tuesday. Johnson County will allow in-person voting on Saturday, July 16, while Shawnee County and Sedgwick County begin July 18.
Kansans have until July 26 to apply for a mail-in ballot.
The state has a closed primary system, which means you must declare as a member of a political party to vote on Republican or Democratic ballots. However, unaffiliated voters may still vote on ballot questions including the abortion amendment and nonpartisan races.
“If you go online, and you want to request an advance ballot, but it says I have to be a Democrat or Republican, no you don’t,” said Martha Pint, co-president of the League of Women Voters Kansas. “Leave it blank and submit it anyway, and the secretaries or the election commissioners and or county clerks should still mail you out that advance ballot without your having to declare a party.”
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican running for reelection, urged Kansans to check their voter information and vote their conservative conscience.
“There will be an important constitutional amendment on the August 2 primary ballot, and it is imperative that Republicans participate and support our Kansas conservative values in the upcoming election,” Schwab said in a statement.
If a voter should run into issues with registering, during advance voting or on election day, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is working to ensure voters know their rights at the polls. The group will be running the legal arm of their statewide Election Protection program throughout the primaries and urge Kansas to contact 866-OUR-VOTE with any concerns.
“In partnership with Loud Light, we’ll have nonpartisan poll watchers on hand at voting locations throughout the state to observe and document any issues at the polls,” said Sharon Brett, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas. “We’re here to protect every Kansan’s right to vote — here’s to a smooth election where everyone can make their voices heard.”
Last week, following ACLU intervention, Atchison County Clerk Michelle Phillips reversed a prevision decision that ended voter registration for the Aug. 2 primary early on June 23rd. Phillips had closed voter registration early in anticipation of the city of Atchison’s July 14 special election.
During a July 5 city commission hearing, multiple residents complained about registration difficulties created by the special election. Some who had recently moved to Atchison or who turned 18 after June 23 said they were unable to register.
“In this crucial and historic of an election, it would have been an egregious violation of these voters’ rights for an election official to prevent voters from registering up until the deadline as provided by the National Voter Registration Act,” Brett said in a statement at the time.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.