Advance voting shows differing trends between political parties in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – More than 300,000 Kansans have applied for a mail-in ballot for next week’s primary election. That’s up from 49,000 in both the 2016 and 2018 primaries.

Republicans outweigh Democrats in Kansas by more than 300,000 registered voters, but early voting numbers are showing a much more divided electorate.

The deadline to request a mail in ballot ended Tuesday.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said of the more than 300,000 ballots requested, the number is nearly split between the two major parties, with Democrats slightly outweighing Republicans.

That means there’s a higher percentage of Democrats turning to mail-in ballots than Republicans.

“We’re going to see probably fewer Republicans relative to Democrats, now what can happen is this can be a big disadvantage to Republicans,” political analyst Bob Beatty said. “They may be hindering themselves if their own voters don’t vote by mail and then don’t show up on Election Day.”

About 36 percent of mail in ballots have been returned, that’s about 112,000. Democrats have turned in about 4,000 more than their counterparts. Ballots will continue to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Democrats have pushed for more people to use mail-in ballots during the coronavirus outbreak if they don’t feel comfortable going to the polls. Schwab credits Governor Laura Kelly for the increase for in the party.

“When we have a Democrat governor in the state of Kansas, they have the fundraising mechanisms to get an organized mail ballot campaign together, and if the Republicans have it, then they get a better get out the vote effort if they have that governor’s office,” Schwab said.

Schwab said he doesn’t care how you vote, just as long as you vote.

“Clearly people are going that option, whether it’s because they’re at-risk and there’s concern or they take care of somebody who could be at-risk and they don’t want to take something home to somebody they take care of,” he said.

Schwab said more people may realize the convenience of mail-in voting after this year, but he also believes that most of the state prefers to vote in person.

Beatty said Democrats are setting the example of how to get more people to vote. He said Republicans may be hurting themselves if their voters decide to stay at home because of coronavirus.

“I think for both parties encouraging voting by mail is just a wise strategy,” Beatty said.

Though you won’t be able to request a mail-in ballot going forward, in-person advance voting will continue until noon on Monday before Election Day.

Republicans are more than tripling the amount of Democrats that are voting early in person. They have had more than 13,000 voters, while Democrats have had 4,000.

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