TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – With coronavirus cases on the rise in Kansas and the primary election just around the corner, things will likely look very different at the polls this year. But that shouldn’t stop you from voting.
We are less than a month away from the August 4 primary election in Kansas. However, there are only days left to register to vote.
The deadline to register is midnight on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. To register, you have a couple options:
- Go to the Kansas Secretary of State website where you can download the voter registration application (in English or Spanish) or you can find the link to register online.
- Contact your local election office. They may also have an option to register online or will get you a paper application.
Secretary of State Scott Schwab, does not recommend using third-party websites to register.
“Sometimes they don’t have all the correct information for folks to supply us,” explained Schwab. “So the best thing to do is go to our website.”
Remember, voter registration must be submitted by July 14, so if you print out an application, you must get it to your election office before they close on Tuesday.
The primary election ballots are sent out based on political party affiliation, which you choose when you register to vote. This means, if you register as a democrat you will receive a ballot with only the democratic candidates, and the same goes for the republicans. For those already registered, the deadline to change your party affiliation has passed, but for unaffiliated voters you must choose to receive either a democrat or republican ballot.
If you want to avoid potential crowds at the polls, you can request a mail-in ballot. Some counties in Kansas are sending advanced voting/mail-in applications to all registered voters, for both the primary and general elections. But you can also get the application from your local election office. Contact the office for the best way to get the application.
According to Secretary Schwab, Kansas is already seeing a major mail-in ballot voter turnout.
“Right now, we’re up to over 240,000 requests for mail-in ballots,” said Schwab. “To put that in perspective, in 2018, which was one of the largest elections participated in state history, we had 51,000.”
If you choose to vote by mail-in ballot, Secretary Schwab says it’s very important to sign the outside of your ballot envelope. Election workers will compare your signature on the ballot to your signature on the voter registration to make sure you were the one filling out the ballot.
“We train those clerks with the FBI and the KBI’s course study on how to match signatures,” explained Schwab. “To make sure that it wasn’t a fraudulent ballot.”
Schwab also recommends turning in your mail-in ballot in person, if possible. That way there’s no chance of it getting lost in the mail. Schwab says most county election offices have a dropbox for ballots.
Of course, if you would prefer to vote in-person, that option is still available. Kansas received $4.6 million in federal funding under the CARES Act, Help America Vote Act (HAVA), $2.6 million has been distributed to counties to be used for keeping polling locations safe during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes plexiglass shields, face masks for workers, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and disposable stylus pens.
But, for counties across the state, there is an urgent need for election poll workers. Secretary Schwab explained most poll workers are elderly and are therefore more likely to contract a severe case of the coronavirus. Because of this, they are choosing not to work this year. Counties are looking to young people to help fill in.
“They always say, ‘I’m just a teenager, I don’t know, what can I do to make a difference?’ Well the biggest thing they can do is work at a poll because we need that young population,” said Schwab.
Kansas poll workers are paid and are typically required to work at least a half-day shift. You must be at least 16 years old to be a poll worker. Contact your local election office for more information.