TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lawmakers are moving forward with multiple plans that could change how you’re able to vote early.
Currently Kansans can have up to 20 days to vote by advance ballot, the amount depends on the county. That means a county can’t start sending out ballots in the mail until 20 days out. Kansas law also states that for three days following an election, ballots can still be counted.
Two proposals in the Kansas Senate would cut the number of days before the election to 15, and the days for counting after an election to zero.
On Friday, lawmakers focused on getting rid of the three day grace period.
“I think election day should be the election day,” said Winfield Senator Larry Alley.
Lawmakers in support of the bill, which passed five to three out of committee with all but one Republican voting for it, said they want to avoid confusion around late ballots being counted.
“They need to be in by election day. If they need to mail them, then they have to plan for that three to seven days,” Alley said.
More than 32,000 ballots came in the three days following the most recent election. They had to be cast and postmarked by election day. Opponents of the bill said shrinking the number of days won’t help anyone.
“To me it is a clear cut voter suppression bill,” said Prairie Village Senator Ethan Corson. “The effect of the bill is it is going to make it much harder for elderly voters, for disabled voters, for voters in our rural area to just do something as simple as cast their ballot and have it counted.”
State officials have said the 2020 election was a success in Kansas. Last year wasn’t the first time the three day grace period proposal was in place, as it was passed four years ago. Legislators voted 163 to 1 to approve it.
One of the supporters, Alley, who chairs the committee that discussed the bill, pointed to what is happening outside of the state as the motive.
“What has changed in my opinion is we’re seeing things go on and on, not in Kansas, but go on many days past election day, we really didn’t know who the winner was nationwide for several days after election day,” Alley said.
But opponents question why the change is necessary when many agree Kansas is running elections correctly.
“We’re just coming off what was a safe, fair, and secure election. To me, what we should be doing is celebrating that in a really difficult circumstance, we had so many folks at the county level across the state to step up and run a safe, secure election,” Corson said.
“I don’t understand why it is that Republican leadership is using this as a reason to actually curtail access to the ballot,” he continued.
But supporters said something needs to change before possible problems arise.
“It is good in Kansas,” Alley said. “We want to continue to have elections fair, honest, and transparent in Kansas, and I think what we tried to do this week is continue that philosophy and make sure they are.”
The proposals will now head to the Senate for a full vote, and then would need to go to the House.