elections

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.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

Kansas Democrats have scrapped plans for polling sites for their May 2 presidential primary and are using only mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Kansas’ top election official says the state needs another year to prepare before it can give voters a choice of polling places on Election Day, even though it has been nearly 10 months since the Legislature enacted a law aimed at making voting more convenient and boosting turnout.

LaRissa Lawrie / KMUW/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow Sedgwick County to get around a state-imposed hold on using open polling for the 2020 election cycle.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas and federal election officials say they know the 2020 election could come under attack from foreign governments or rogue hackers. They also insist they’re braced to guard against efforts to tamper with voting.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File Photo

A controversial proposal to extend term limits for Wichita City Council members could be put to a city-wide vote next year.

The change would allow council members, including the mayor, to serve three four-year terms; they’re currently limited to two.

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