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Elections » Methods of Voting

To accommodate all voters and their busy schedules, Kansas has several methods for voting. Citizens can choose whether they vote in person at a polling place before or on election day, by mail, from home, or even while vacationing overseas. Offering these various methods is critical to maximizing participation in elections and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to cast a ballot.

Election Day Voting

Polling Places

Every county opens a series of polling places throughout the county on election day. Every registered voter is assigned to a specific polling place based on the residence address on the registration application, and must go to that polling place to vote a properly cast ballot. An individual who arrives at the wrong polling place may be outside of some or all of the districts in which they are qualified to vote, and will have to vote a provisional ballot.

When a person arrives at the polling place, he or she must check in with one of the election board workers. Each polling place has a poll book that contains the name and voter registration information of every voter qualified to vote at that polling place in that election. The voter must state his or her name and verify the address where registered. Beginning January 1, 2012, the voter must then show a photo ID that contains the name and photograph of the person. Common forms of acceptable ID include a driver's license, a passport and a school ID. The voter must then sign the poll book. The board worker will hand the voter a paper ballot or direct the voter to an electronic voting machine where the vote will be cast.

Provisional Ballots

If the voter's name does not appear in the poll book, or if there is a discrepancy between the information provided by the voter and what appears in the poll book, the voter is given a provisional ballot. Once voted, a provisional ballot is placed in an envelope, sealed, and set aside to be reviewed after election day. The voter will be asked to complete a new voter registration application to ensure the correct information is collected. That application is attached to the provisional ballot envelope. The reason the ballot is provisional is written on the outside of the envelope, e.g., address is different, name is different, etc. After election day, the election office reviews all provisional ballots to determine their validity. All provisional ballots are presented to the county board of canvassers, who determines which ballots should be counted and added to the official vote total.

Voting Machines

The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002, requires counties to offer an accessible voting machine in every polling place. The majority of voters in Kansas vote on a paper optical scan ballot where the voter darkens the oval next to the name of the candidate. Those ballots are then fed into an optical scan voting machine by either the voter or a board worker.

Touch-screen voting machines are units that record votes electronically and are used in 47 counties. Automark voting machines, used in 59 counties, offer touch-screen voting but also print the voter's selections on a standard optical-scan ballot that is processed with handmarked ballots. Finally, some counties offer standard paper ballots that are marked directly by the voter and are hand counted.

Advance Voting

Voters who are unable or do not want to go to the polling place on election day may vote in advance. There are two options for advance voting: by mail or in person at an early vote location.

Individuals voting by mail must submit an application that tells election officials where to send the ballot. After receiving the ballot, voters mark their choices and must return the ballot to the election office before the close of polls on election day.

Beginning seven days before the election, all counties must open in-person early voting locations. Counties have the option of opening in-person voting locations beginning 20 days before the election. Voters may visit advance-voting locations and cast a ballot in the same way they would on election day.

Kansas has additional voting procedures for overseas military personnel and U.S. citizens under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). This act was passed to assist overseas military personnel, their families, and U.S. citizens abroad with voting in their elections at home. First they must complete a federal post card application and submit it to the election office in the United States. Then the county will send a ballot to the voter by mail, fax or email. The voter must return the ballot by close of the polls on election day by mail, fax or email. Fax and email options are not available to persons who are not UOCAVA voters.