Voter registrations are up in Sedgwick County, with six weeks to go until Election Day.
The Sedgwick County Election Office says more than 312,000 people are registered to vote in the general election. That’s up about 8,000 since the August primary, and about 18,000 since 2016, the last presidential election.
Deputy Election Commissioner Melissa Schnieders says recent voter registration drives and increased interest in the 2020 presidential race are pushing up the number of new voters. She says the office was busy Tuesday with people who wanted to make it official on National Voter Registration Day.
"We have had a steady stream of voters, especially first-time voters, coming into our office," Schnieders said. "Those 18-year-olds are coming in today to get registered to vote, and it’s pretty exciting."
Voter registration applications can be done online through the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, by mail or in person at county election offices. The last day to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 13.
Schnieders says requests for mail ballots are also up significantly this year.
"We’re still having them come in a couple of trays a day of requests through the mail," she said. "Of course we also get those by email and fax, too."
From Aug. 15 to Sept. 19, the office processed 63,173 advance mail-in ballot applications, compared to 3,910 requests that came in during the same period in 2016.
Schnieders says the office has received more than 78,000 requests for the advance mail-in ballots so far this year. Thousands more requests are expected to arrive before the late October deadline.
"We are definitely on pace for what we had targeted for numbers. We do still anticipate sending out well over 100,000 advance ballots by mail," Schnieders said.
The election office will begin sending out mail-in ballots to voters on Oct. 14. The last day the office can send them is Oct. 27.
Completed ballots can be returned through the U.S. Postal Service mail, dropped off at the county election office or any polling location or at a ballot drop box. The must be postmarked by Election Day and arrive at the election office by the following Friday in order to be counted.
This is the first year that Sedgwick County will have ballot drop boxes available for voters to return completed ballots. The boxes were installed at 14 locations throughout Sedgwick County.
In-person early voting begins at the Sedgwick County Election Office on Oct. 19, and expands to countywide polling locations on Oct. 27. So-called "mega-voting" sites will be available at Intrust Bank Arena and Wichita State University.
Election Day is Nov. 3.