Thursday, May 7, 2020
TOPEKA – Secretary of State Scott Schwab today announced the distribution of $2.6 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Kansas counties for the 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation that requires us to prepare for all scenarios for the 2020 election cycle,” said Secretary Schwab. “Local election officials have reported increased and unexpected expenditures resulting from their pandemic preparations. It is only appropriate that a majority of the CARES Act funding will be used to reimburse counties for those expenses.”
In March, the United States Congress passed the CARES Act which included $400 million in Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to states. The funding must be used in 2020 to prepare for, prevent and respond to the coronavirus pandemic for the 2020 Federal election cycle. Kansas received approximately $4.6 million in HAVA funding, $2.6 million of which will be used to reimburse counties with COVID-19 related expenditures. Schwab’s office is in the final stages of procuring $1 million worth of personal protection equipment (PPE) for Kansas polling places. Remaining funds will be reserved for additional state or county COVID-19 expenditures.
Each PPE kit includes hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, face masks and disposable gloves. In addition, two plexiglass shields will be provided to each polling location, by the state, to ensure additional protection for election workers and voters. Schwab’s office will also purchase disposable stylus pens for voters to use to cast their ballots on election equipment in 2020.
“We must strike a balance in maintaining the security of elections while protecting the health and welfare of Kansas voters and election workers,” said Secretary Schwab. “In 2020, Kansas voters have multiple options in how they can cast their ballot including voting in-person on election day, advance in-person voting and advance mail ballots.”
Individuals who have underlying health conditions or who are concerned about the prolonged impact of COVID-19, are encouraged to request an advance ballot by mail. Since 1996, Kansas has allowed all voters to request an advance mail ballot without needing an excuse (K.S.A. 25-1120). Voters with permanent illness or disability may apply for a ballot to be permanently mailed to them prior to every election (K.S.A. 25-1122(h)). Registered voters may request an advance mail ballot by contacting their local election office or online at: https://www.sos.ks.gov/forms//elections/AV1.pdf. For the first time, voters can confirm online whether their advance mail ballot applications have been received at: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/AbsenteeBallotSearch.do.
As of May 6, 2020, there have been 21,797 advance ballot by mail applications processed. The top four counties with advance ballot by mail applications are: Trego County with 23.7 percent of all registered voters; Morris County with 10.6 percent of all registered voters; Ness County with 10.4 percent of all registered voters; and Edwards County with 10 percent of all registered voters. 33 counties have not processed any advance ballot by mail applications. For the 2018 primary election, there were 51,455 total advance by mail applications received in Kansas and 54,127 total advance by mail applications for the 2016 primary election.
Schwab’s office is also encouraging voters and candidates to be proactive in filing their candidacy documents, registering to vote, changing their party affiliation, and updating their voter information to help ease the burden on local election officials. The deadlines for the 2020 elections are as follows:
- June 1: (NOON) Candidate filing deadline
- June 1: Deadline for voters to change their party affiliation
- July 14: Deadline to register to vote
- July 15: Advance voting by mail and in-person may begin
- July 28: Deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballots for the primary election
- August 4: Primary Election (K.S.A. 25-203)
- August 7: Deadline for receipt of advance mail ballots postmarked on/before primary election day
- October 14: Advance voting by mail and in-person may begin
- October 27: Deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballots for the general election
- November 6: Deadline for receipt of advance mail ballots postmarked on/before general election day
- Request an advance mail ballot: https://www.sos.ks.gov/forms//elections/AV1.pdf.
- Register to vote: https://www.kdor.ks.gov/Apps/VoterReg/Default.aspx
- Verify voter information: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/
- Check status of advance mail ballot application: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/AbsenteeBallotSearch.do
The Office of Secretary of State will continue to provide updates on the 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 outbreak as the situation warrants.