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Kansas Election Officials Question Plan to Move Local Election Date

Photo by Stephen Koranda

County clerks are raising questions about an idea to move the date of local government elections. A proposal in the Kansas Legislature would move local elections to the fall of even-numbered years, so they’d coincide with presidential and congressional elections. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.

The goal of moving the Kansas local elections is to increase voter turnout. But the state association of county clerks opposes the move because it would make the elections far more complex for poll workers and election officials.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says it's not a certainty that everyone who shows up in the fall would actually vote in the local races. And, he says there are other ways to increase turnout, like using mail-in ballots or offering same-day voter registration. 

“We would like there to be a larger conversation about turnout, not just this one particular issue about even year elections. Let’s put everything on the table and talk about it,” says Shew.

Lawmakers will consider a plan to move the elections when they return to Topeka later this month.

(Version two)

County clerks in Kansas are raising questions about a plan to move the date of local elections. The bill before lawmakers would move local government elections to the fall of even-numbered years, meaning they’d coincide with presidential and congressional elections.

Supporters say the goal is to increase voter turnout.  But Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says putting all the elections together in the fall would greatly increase the complexity of the elections for poll workers, election officials and voters.

“This April election that we just ran is actually one of the most complex we run. A November election has a lot of people that come with it, but it’s not as complex, and the complexity comes with the school districts,” says Shew.
Shew says layering the school districts onto the election map creates many more ballot types that need to be organized and distributed. He says there are other changes that could increase voter turnout, including mail-in ballots and same-day voter registration.


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