Think of it as an instruction sheet for voters.
After federal judges last month completely redrew legislative districts throughout Kansas, Douglas County officials have decided to spend about $23,000 to send new information cards to every registered voter in the county to head off confusion about what races voters are eligible to participate in.
“There was just such a large number of precincts that have had changes, that it made sense to just send everybody a new card,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew.
Shew’s office took about 75,000 voter registration cards to the mail on Monday. Voters should start receiving the cards any day. The cards will include:
• The location of the person’s polling place.
• The voter’s party affiliation.
• The voter’s address.
• A list of all the legislative and governmental districts a voter is eligible to vote in, including Congressional district, and state and house districts.
Shew said of the 71 precincts in Douglas County, 61 of them had some sort of change that moves voters from one district to another. Some precincts had numerous changes. Shew said Willow Springs Township previously all was covered by the same state House and Senate districts. Now, there are two House districts and two Senate districts in the township.
“It does get confusing because people on one side of the street will be voting for something different than people on the other side,” Shew said.
Shew said state law did not require him to send out all new voter information cards. But he said it seemed to make good sense to do so, given that most of the cards are 10 years old or older. He said he’s not sure when the last time the county updated all of its cards.
“The contact information on a lot of those old cards are different,” Shew said. “There are some people who probably have had those cards in their wallet for a couple of decades now. We have a Web site now.”
Shew is urging people to visit that website, at douglas-county.com, to look at sample ballots. The ballots will list all the candidates up for election.
People also can already cast their votes at the Douglas County Courthouse. Advance voting has been open since July 18 and runs through noon on Aug. 6. The primary election is Aug. 7.
Shew said turnout for advanced voting had been very light.
“I think we have been averaging about eight voters a day,” Shew said. “It has been slow even by primary standards. But it has been really hot. It will be interesting to see if we get a break in the weather, if people get out and vote.”