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Kansas

There are a wide variety of issue areas in which Kansas has opportunities to improve voter access and system integrity and continue on the progress made in 2020, starting with making drop boxes permanent. These improvements will bring Kansas one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Creating an online portal for voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. The system could be built to feed directly into the voter registration system to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. Electronic signatures on file, such as from the Driver’s License Dept., can be used to sign these applications, or the final digits of social security numbers can be used. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Kansas can increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package by improving its current ballot tracking system. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
Kansas can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee option, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply, to all voters. States experience significant savings with these lists; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Offering secure drop boxes as another method for voters to return ballots is a cost-effective way to reduce strain on the postal system, and boxes are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. We highly recommend making the drop boxes added in 2020 a permanent practice for future elections.
We highly recommend implementing vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote, in all counties. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.

Recent Legislation

As of May 25, 2021

In 2020 the state’s Democratic Presidential Primary, which is run by the Kansas Democratic party rather than the state, was held entirely by mail. While a variety of emergency legislation to facilitate mail voting was proposed for the general election, none was adopted. In the fall the Secretary of State offered each county up to two ballot drop-off boxes for the November general election.

Two major legislative changes were made in the 2021 session to mail voting, both were vetoed by the governor and later overridden and put into law and could spell trouble longterm. The first, HB2332, severely limits the changes both the governor and the Secretary of State can make to election procedures in response to an emergency or a court case. The second, HB2183, bars election officials from accepting funding from outside people or groups. In 2020, nonprofits provided funds for chronically-underfunded election offices across the nation to pay for ballot tracking systems, drop boxes, and processing equipment so systems could handle the massive increase in mail ballots. With these new laws, there is no “fallback” if an emergency occurs and the legislature does not react, or fund its election systems, properly.