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Politics

Kansas Voter Registration Deadline Is Tuesday

KSVoterRegistrationApplication_Koranda.jpg
Stephen Koranda
/
KPR/File photo

The deadline to register to vote in Sedgwick County for next month's general election is on Tuesday.

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says people can register in person at the election office in downtown Wichita from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

"Make sure that if you have changed your name, moved or have changed your name for the first time, you go ahead and get that taken care of prior to or on October 17," Lehman says. "Be on the lookout from our office saying that we need something from you or a polling place change."

As of now, one polling place has changed. People who voted at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in west Wichita will now cast their ballots at nearby Woodland Methodist Church.

Lehman says the election office is still taking applications for poll workers for the upcoming general election on November 7.

This is the first year that local elections are being held in November. In the past, voting for local offices took place in the spring.

In many communities, there are races for city council, school board or ballot questions about issues including bonds and sales taxes.

A big motivation for moving the local Kansas elections was to get people into the habit of voting every fall and improve turnout. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew sent out a mailing to alert voters about the change and requests for advance ballots are way up.

“We’ve been surprised by the response to it,” Shew said. "We actually have had over 4,000 people respond to it asking for an advance ballot, which is ten times the number of advance ballots we’ve had for local elections."

Shew said in the past, local elections would come not long after federal elections, which may have led to voter fatigue. The change in date appears to be attracting people who normally may not be interested in local races.

“Over 50 percent of the people who requested a ballot have never voted in a local election,” Shew said.

There’s still some confusion about voter registration rules, Shew said.

State law requires new Kansas voters to provide proof of citizenship. Because of a court order, people registering using the federal voter registration form are currently not held to that requirement.

Shew offers both the federal and state forms in his office. He said voters using the federal form need to keep future uncertainty in mind and watch for updates.

“It’s something that I talk to voters about. Your status could change, depending upon what happens,” Shew said.

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Carla Eckels is interim news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.