There are three ways to vote this year
It doesn’t feel like an election year with all that’s gone on in the world these past few months, but in Kansas, primary elections loom in August followed by November’s general contest.
Over the years I’ve voted on Election Day, done in-person advance voting and utilized the mail-in option. Of the three, I’ve found in-person advance to be the fastest and most convenient. Election Day is still my preference, probably because of tradition. All three have positives and negatives, depending on one’s point of view.
There are passionate people who will say anything other than casting a ballot on Election Day is un-American. Others will say it’s absurd to hold an election in the middle of the week. For Kansans, none of the arguments really matter because the system allows ample opportunity and access to the ballot box.
Like everything else voting will be different in 2020. Polls will still open and operate on the first Tuesday in August and November, but it’s likely a record number of Kansans will cast their ballots early and through the mail. I can’t tell you how to vote, but I would urge everyone to be aware of the potential disruptions to traditional voting procedures.
My home county is currently looking for 80 workers to staff polling places for the primary and general elections. I’ll be among those new hires for the primary, receiving a full two hours of training before working a polling location for 12-plus hours. If there’s a slow line in Riley County, there’s a good chance I’m the reason.
If time and your health aren’t concerns, there’s no indication you can’t still vote in person at the traditional time. But if they are, Kansas law makes it easy and convenient to cast a ballot early either in person or by mail.
If you want to vote in person but skip the lines on Election Day, counties offer the opportunity to do so, usually at the courthouse or clerk’s office, starting the Tuesday before Election Day or 20 days before the election.
Check with either your clerk’s office or county election commissioner to see what days and times in-person advance voting is available. If you’re not registered, those same officials can help you with that as well.
To vote by mail, you need to request an advance ballot application from your county election officer. Some counties have already mailed applications to all registered voters. If you submit an application, a ballot will be mailed to you starting 20 days before the election.
Completed ballots can be mailed back, so long as they’re post-marked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after the election. Voters can also return their advance ballot to the county election office or any polling place in their county by the close of polls on Election Day.
Key dates for the primary are July 14, the last day to register; July 15, the day advance ballots will be mailed and in-person voting may begin; July 28, deadline to apply for an advance mail ballot, Aug. 3 at noon, in-person advance voting ends; and Aug. 4, Election Day.
Those dates for the general are Oct. 13, last day to register; Oct. 14, the day advance ballots will be mailed and in-person voting may begin; Oct. 27, deadline to apply for an advance mail ballot; Nov. 2 at noon, in-person advance voting ends; Nov. 3, Election Day.
I should note I’m against voting for voting’s sake. Our system of self-governance relies on an informed electorate choosing its leaders. Hopefully, you will be part of that electorate this fall, either in person or by mail.
"Insight" is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.