June 1st is the deadline for candidates in Kansas to make it official and file to appear on the ballot. It’s also an important deadline for voters, as it’s the last day they can switch political parties before the August 7th primary election.
Voters must be registered as either Republicans or Democrats to cast ballots in their party’s primary.
Leaders from both parties said that in the past there was often more voter interest in Republican primaries because Democrats had fewer contested races.
State lawmakers changed the party switching rules in 2014. Republicans who pushed the change said the goal was to reduce attempts by outside groups to influence the outcome of the GOP primary.
Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Jim Joice said the dynamics are different this year, with contested primaries in both parties.
“For the first time in a long time they’ve got some challenges on their side,” Joice said. “It will be interesting to see. I don’t think we’ll see as much party switching as you might have in past years.”
Joice said he’s seeing high interest in the upcoming election, and that sentiment is echoed by Ethan Corson, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.
“This year, with us having primaries of our own, we’ve seen a lot of people moving over and registering as Democrats, so we’ve been emphasizing that June 1st deadline,” Corson said.
People who need to register to vote for the first time, or simply change addresses, have a later deadline of July 17th.
Voters with no party affiliation on their registration can also choose to join a party after the June 1st deadline. Unaffiliated voters can even affiliate with a party on Election Day and vote in the primary.