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Mail Ballot Bill Clarifying Disabled Voters' Rights Moves Through Kansas Legislature

A bill passed by the Senate would clarify that voters unable to sign their ballot envelopes could still vote by mail.

Sedgwick County leaders are optimistic a law will be passed this year that makes sure voters with disabilities can vote by mail.

County commissioners have backed two bills in the Kansas Legislature clarifying that voters who can't sign their mail-in ballot envelopes will still have their votes counted. State law already allows voters to receive assistance filling out their mail-in ballots if needed.

One of those bills -- sponsored by Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau of Wichita -- passed unanimously through the Senate last week. Sedgwick County Commission Chairman David Dennis says he thinks there’s a good chance it’ll pass through the House just as easily.

“We want to ensure … the right of every one of our voters to cast a vote and to have that vote count,” he says.

Commissioners say they had to throw away 23 mail-in ballots last year because the voters had disabilities that prevented them from signing the envelopes.

“That came as a complete surprise to, I think, most of us," Dennis says. "That’s what precipitated us adding that to our legislative agenda.”

It's unclear whether those votes should have counted under current law; the new law intends to eliminate any confusion.

Lawmakers have been on a short break but return to the Statehouse on Wednesday. A vote on the bill in the House hasn't yet been scheduled.


Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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