As courts embrace voter suppression, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab issues statement and advice to Kansas voters
States with early primary elections have moved the dates of those elections or implemented vote-by-mail procedures in the face of social distancing and stay-in-place orders to slow the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.
Those efforts in Wisconsin met a double whammy of voter suppression this week as the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked an effort by Democratic Governor Tony Evers to delay the election until June and the United States Supreme Court overturned a lower court order that would have given voters an extra six days to return mail-in ballots. These actions put many Wisconsin voters in the dangerous position of having to vote in person, waiting in long lines and potentially spreading or catching the disease just to exercise their right to vote. Click here to read more about the Wisconsin mess.
The Kansas primary election is scheduled for August 4 and while one hopes COVID-19 will be under control before then, Kansans should be prepared to use all means available to cast a ballot. To that end, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has issued advice to voters for how to be ready to cast a ballot regardless of the situation. We have provided Secretary Schwab’s statement below:
COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation requiring us to evaluate all scenarios for the upcoming elections. Our office is working closely with federal, state and local officials to monitor the situation and respond accordingly. Currently, there are no plans to delay or substantially change the process for the Tuesday, August 4, primary election. Any date changes to the November 3, general election will be made by the United States Congress. We recognize the COVID-19 situation is fluid and that election deadlines are approaching. In proceeding, there must be a balance in maintaining the security of elections and protecting the health and welfare of our citizens.
There are a handful of counties holding special elections this spring. Vendors have provided sanitation best practices to Kansas counties to ensure election equipment is properly sanitized. For county elections already underway, they will proceed as required by law. For county elections not yet started, the local governing body will determine how to proceed.
Kansas voters have multiple options to cast their ballot – advance in-person voting, election day in-person voting and advance mail ballot voting. Since 1996, advance voting by mail has been offered to all Kansas voters. Each of Kansas’ 105 counties are equipped and experienced to handle increased numbers of advance mail ballots. Counties also have the ability to adjust the quantities of advance mail ballots based on demand.
Kansas voters may apply for an advance mail ballot online at: www.sos.ks.gov/forms//elections/AV1.pdf.
Although the candidate filing deadline is not until noon on June 1, we encourage candidates for elected office to be proactive in filing their candidacy documents due to the evolving impact of COVID-19. Candidate and election filings can be made by appointment by calling 785.296.4561.
Due to anticipated increase in demand for advance mail ballots, individuals are encouraged to register to vote and change their party affiliation prior to the respective deadlines. Voters must change their party affiliation by June 1. The deadline to register to vote is July 14. Doing so will make it easier for county election officers to process voter registration and party affiliation in an accurate and timely manner.
To register to vote online visit, https://www.kdor.ks.gov/Apps/VoterReg/Default.aspx.
Kansas Presidential Primaries
Kansas voters should also be aware that the August 4 primary election does not include voting for a presidential candidate. There will be no Republican primary election for President. The Democratic Party will hold a presidential primary election in May but that election will be by mail only. Registered Democrats will receive a ballot in the mail shortly.