elections

Mel Green, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to sign bills to change the timing of many local elections and to give the secretary of state the power to prosecute election fraud cases.

Brownback was having a signing ceremony Monday at the Statehouse.

One bill moves city and local school board elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years. Supporters contend the change will boost turnout.

Critics say the change will be disruptive and that there are other ways to increase voter participation, including voting by mail.

Carla Eckels

State lawmakers have agreed to move local elections to the fall in odd-numbered years.

Representatives from the Senate and House came to a compromise on Monday, after each chamber passed different versions of the same elections reform bill earlier in the session.

Republican Representative Mark Kahrs of Wichita says the move would boost turnout to between 30 percent and 40 percent - more than double the turnout in most recent local elections.

League of Women Voters of California LWVC, Flickr Creative Commons

Republican legislators in Kansas are moving to shift city and local school board elections to the fall of even-numbered years.

House and Senate negotiators have drafted a plan to get rid of the traditional scheduling of local elections in the spring of odd-numbered years.

Local elections would be on the same schedule as contests for county, state and congressional offices. Under the bill, city and school board races would be listed first on the ballot.

Supporters say the bill will increase turnout.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

People decry low voter turnout in local elections. In the March 3 primary election for Wichita Mayor and City Council candidates, approximately 20,000 individuals-- only 10 percent-- of nearly 200,000 registered voters cast a vote. Wichita now has a population of approximately 382,000, with 286,000 people over 18 years of age who could qualify as a voter. That means about 86,000 people in Wichita who could be voting are not on the voter registration rolls at all.

Tomorrow is the final day for Kansans to register to vote or update their address before the Kansas primary election on August 5th. As Stephen Koranda reports, there’s also still time to provide missing citizenship documents that are keeping voter registrations from being processed.

Anyone who's registering to vote for the first time in Kansas needs to provide a document proving that they're a U.S. citizen. Andrew Howell is Shawnee County’s election commissioner.

A Kansas Senate committee is considering a bill that would stop people from switching political parties in the final weeks before a primary election.