Kansas officials address concerns about voting by mail

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Though concern about voting by mail is spreading in the United States, many people in Kansas still want to vote that way in November.

If you applied for an advance ballot and voted that way in the August primary, you still need to fill out another application for the general election.

In August, Kansans voted by mail more than ever before, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Depending again on which election you compare it to, anywhere from double to four times as much mail advance voting as we’ve seen in the past, so big jump in mail voting,” Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said.

For November, filled out applications should be sent in the mail or through email to your local election office. Then advance ballots will start to be sent out 20 days before election day. The general election is being held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In Kansas, you have up until a week before the election to request a ballot, otherwise you have to vote in person.

The advance ballot has to be postmarked by election day and received by your local election office by the Friday after election day, Nov. 6.

For the August primary, Howell said there were about a dozen people in Shawnee County that had complained they didn’t receive their mail-in ballot. The office worked with them to get them another way to cast their vote.

Some people are worried that if a person in Kansas waits until the last week to request a ballot, it can create a tight window. That’s giving some people concern that the postal service can’t get all the ballots back on time.

United States Postal Service spokesman Mark Inglett said officials are preparing for November.

“The postal service has ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Inglett said. “Our network is designed to handle increases in volume and deliver that mail in a timely manner.”

The postal service is working with officials in Kansas to make sure things go smoothly.

“We employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all election mail, including ballots. This includes close coordination and partnerships with election officials at the local and state levels,” Inglett said.

If you request an advance ballot, you can check out this website ran by the Kansas Secretary of State’s office to see the status of your ballot.

Officials said it’s best to get your ballot in early.

“I encourage people to watch and kind of check and be as quick and early as you can,” Howell said. “When you get that late, then it gets difficult, if for some reason it doesn’t get here, there isn’t always something I can do about it, so it’s smart to get your ballot in early and then if you’re not sure, just come vote in the office or vote election day as well.”

If you request an advance ballot and end up voting a different way, you will receive a provisional ballot to make sure your vote isn’t counted twice.

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