By Dylan Lysen
The August Kansas primary election this year includes a constitutional amendment on abortion rights, and that’s attracting attention from people who normally don’t vote in primaries.
That may have caused confusion for voters who aren’t used to casting a primary ballot or are not affiliated with a political party and are unsure whether they are eligible to vote.
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, who oversees elections in the state, said all Kansas voters are eligible to cast a primary ballot.
Schwab said the amendment on the ballot means all registered Kansans can vote during the primary, regardless of political affiliation. He encourages all Kansas voters to cast a ballot.
“The constitutional amendment will be on all ballots regardless of one’s party affiliation,” Schwab said in an interview. “Even if you’re an unaffiliated voter, please go vote, because it’s your constitution.”
Normally, primary elections are used for Republican and Democratic voters to select a candidate for political offices — such as the Republican primary for attorney general this year. But the Kansas Legislature upended that process by adding the constitutional amendment to the Aug. 2 ballot, opening the primary to all Kansas voters.
The amendment vote will determine whether the state constitution should include a provision that says it does not provide access to abortion. That’s in response to a 2019 court ruling that said the right to abortion is protected by the Kansas Constitution.
The question about unaffiliated voters is relevant to many Kansans because nearly 30% of the state’s registered voters are unaffiliated.
There’s still time to register to vote before the election. The final day for new voters to register for the primary is July 12 and the final day to request an advance mail ballot is July 26. There’s an earlier deadline for voters who are already registered but want to change parties. That must be done by June 10.
Unaffiliated voters will not need to do anything special to make sure they receive a ballot with the constitutional amendment question on it. Schwab said county election offices will know which ballot to give unaffiliated voters. It won’t include any of the Democratic and Republican primary races but will include the constitutional amendment.
Voters who cast a ballot in person will need to bring a photo ID.
Schwab also encourages any voters who request an advance mail ballot to turn the ballot into a ballot drop box, rather than mailing it in. He said that will make sure mail ballots won’t get lost by the U.S. Postal Service and will arrive on time to be counted.
Dylan Lysen reports on politics for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.
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