New district lines and new voting regulations mean that voters planning to participate in upcoming elections need to make some additional preparation.
Those who want to vote in the Aug. 7 primary have until July 17 to register. That can be accomplished by visiting the Douglas County Clerk’s office in the courthouse, 1100 Mass., or online through the Kansas Department of Revenue. People registering online must have a valid Kansas driver’s license or state-issued identification card. Voters must show a valid photo ID before casting their ballots this year.
State election officials are encouraging voters with any questions to confirm their registration status now, before the books close next Tuesday. Even if their registration still is valid, many voters will be in different U.S. House and Kansas legislative districts. The districts redrawn only about a month ago by a panel of federal judges are significantly different from the previous districts.
All of Douglas County now is in the 2nd Congressional District, and many changes were made in Kansas House and Senate districts. Some voters also will find that their polling places have changed since the last election. Maps showing the new precinct lines and legislative districts are available on the Douglas County Clerk’s website. Even if you think you know what races will be on your ballot on Aug. 7, it would be worth a look to confirm what districts you currently live in. If you have questions, it’s worth a phone call to get the answers.
Because of the late redistricting action and the scramble to field candidates in the newly drawn districts, the Aug. 7 ballot will include more than the usual number of primary contests. All three Kansas Senate seats that cover Douglas County will have contested races on the Republican ballot — although one candidate in the 2nd Senate District has suspended his campaign and is supporting the other Republican in the race. There also is a three-way race for the Democratic nomination for the state’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. Congress.
Redistricting, which drew a number of incumbent legislators out of their existing districts, guarantees there will be some new faces in the Kansas Legislature next January. It’s an opportunity for both the candidates and the voters. Make sure you’re registered and know which candidates will be on your ballot.