elections

Jim McLean

A sharp increase in applications for mail ballots shows voters both concerned about, and eager for, this year's primary and general elections.

Facing the prospect of standing in line at polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic, requests from Kansans for mail ballots continue to come in at a record clip.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas' Republican attorney general plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the state to require new voters to provide papers documenting their citizenship when registering.

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts says he will not run for re-election in 2020, opening the door to a parade of candidates announcing a run or considering jumping into the race to replace him. Multiple Republicans are eyeing the seat, and it could be the first time Democrats have a competitive U.S. Senate primary since the 1990s.

Here’s the rundown of who’s seeking the seat in Washington: 

REPUBLICANS

Bob Hamilton

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

MANHATTAN, Kansas — Five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate debated farm issues in Manhattan on Saturday. They all described themselves as loyalists to President Donald Trump.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

TOPEKA — Joe Biden has overwhelmingly won a Democratic presidential primary in Kansas that the state party conducted exclusively by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, a former vice president, was expected to prevail in Saturday's vote and capture a majority of the states delegates to the Democrats national nominating commission. Biden took 77% of the vote.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was still in the race when the Kansas party began mailing ballots at the end of March, but he suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden.

WICHITA, Kansas — Thousands of Reno County voters usually cast their ballots at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, a central location with a high capacity.

Deputy Election Officer Jenna Fager said it’ll look different for this year’s August primary and November general election to avoid spreading the coronavirus. How different, though, she’s not sure.

“We’d have to consult emergency management and our health department and just, kind of, do the best we can,” she said.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas law requiring people to prove they are U.S. citizens before registering to vote is unconstitutional, a federal court has ruled.

The decision handed down Wednesday by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel means that no proof of citizenship is needed ahead of this year’s August primary and November general elections.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

A federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday that a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote is unconstitutional, upholding a judge’s injunction that had banned its use.

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Salt Lake City found in two consolidated appeals challenging the Kansas statute that the state law violates the Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act.

The panel upheld the permanent injunction that U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had imposed prohibiting enforcement of the requirement.

The Kansas Democratic presidential primary isn’t until Saturday, but turnout is already three times larger than 2016.

For the first time, the state Democratic Party used mail-in ballots due to concerns about COVID-19. Party officials announced Tuesday that they had processed 138,400 ballots -- up from 39,266 in 2016.

Party executive director Ben Meers said he was not surprised by the results.

“COVID presented the point of pivot for us,” he said. “We always thought that voting by mail would increase accessibility for voters and we’ve certainly seen that in 2020."

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Tobias Wood is thinking twice about working at a polling place in Shawnee County this year. He’s done it since 2018, but now he’s practicing social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

He knows that might be difficult during elections, when he needs to handle people’s IDs and have voters sign in on a tablet.

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