For those who plan to be out of town during the Nov. 7 general election or just want to avoid crowds at polling places, opportunity is knocking.
Advance voting begins today in Kansas.
As of Tuesday, the Douglas County Clerk's Office had received more than 5,100 applications for advance mail-in ballots, County Clerk Jamie Shew said. Applications still are being received and more are expected, he said.
"We're seeing quite a bit of interest in advance vote," Shew said. "It seems like a lot of people are going to be out of town."
In the 2004 general election, which included a presidential race, the county received 5,300 advance ballots by mail. Including those who voted in advance at the Douglas County Courthouse, the total advance vote count was 10,132. More than 48,000 registered voters participated in that election.
In 2002, the last gubernatorial election in Kansas, 4,964 advance votes were cast in the county, Shew said.
Shew also thinks there has been a major effort by various candidates' campaigns to get people to participate in advance voting.
Advance voting is available at the clerk's office in the courthouse, 1100 Mass., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. On the day before the election, Nov. 6, voting is from 8 a.m. to noon.
Those who want to vote by mail must file an application by 5 p.m. Nov. 3, the Friday before the election. Shew, however, encourages people to get those applications in sooner to allow for ballots to be sent and returned through the mail system before Election Day.
Voters can obtain an online application for an advance vote mail ballot at www.douglas-county.com/clerk/vedivision.asp and send it to the Douglas County election office at the courthouse.
Among those encouraging advance voting are the Douglas County Democrats. They will conduct an "advance ballot chase" Sunday on phones from the party's Lawrence headquarters in the I-70 Business Center.
"Basically, we're just trying to get people to know that they can vote in advance," said Frances Gorman, spokeswoman for the Kansas Democratic Party.