All Democracy is Local: The Impact of County Election Officials on Citizen Participation in Elections
The more that citizens participate in a democracy, the stronger that democracy becomes. Voting, one of our most cherished rights as Americans, is the lifeblood of a healthy democratic system. When the right to vote is not robustly defended, or when a culture that minimizes the importance of citizen participation in elections is cultivated, it saps the strength and soul of our democracy.
- Under-utilizing in-person early voting, through short early voting periods, restricted early voting hours, or a minimal number of early voting locations.
- Reducing the number of polling places, sometimes to unjustifiable levels.
- Failing to conduct outreach to young voters on college campuses and voters with disabilities and mobility issues.
- Creating obstacles to voter registration and contributing to a serious problem of under registration.
- Over-using provisional ballots and rejecting far too many votes that should be counted.
- Expanding early in-person voting periods to the full 20-day maximum allowed by current state law and expanding poll access into evenings and weekends.
- Expanding the number of polling places to reduce wait times and ensuring that those polling locations are geographically distributed across the jurisdiction and in locations that are safe and welcoming for all voters.
- Taking greater pains to ensure that voters with disabilities have full and equal access to the polls with curbside voting.
- Beginning or expanding outreach efforts to groups under-represented in the electorate, especially younger Kansans, Black Kansans, and Hispanic Kansans.
- Prioritizing the identification of strategies for reducing the number of provisional ballots cast and rejected, and converting those provisional ballots to “regular” ballots.
- Expanding the maximum number of days of in-person early voting permitted by law.
- Establishing a minimum number of days of in-person early voting.
- Requiring counties to offer a minimum number of hours of weekend and after-hours in-person early voting.
- Providing better guidance on provisional ballots, so that there is more consistency from county to county in which ballots are counted.
- Enacting an Election Day Registration statute in Kansas.
- Passing legislation that gives all of the state’s voters the right to elect their own election officials.