Kansans who need to update their voter registration before the fall local election will need to move fast. Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote before the November election.
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 jobs such as city council or school board. There are also ballot questions about issues including bonds and sales taxes.
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said people who are new to the state or have moved need to update their registrations.
A big motivation for moving the local Kansas elections was to get people into the habit of voting every fall and improve turnout. Shew sent out a mailing to alert voters about the change and requests for advance ballots jumped.
“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.