Kansas abortion amendment: How all registered voters can cast a ballot in August’s primary election

Kansas voters will decide on Aug. 2 whether to amend the state constitution with a provision that says it doesn’t promise access to abortion

By Dylan Lysen – Kansas News Service

The August Kansas primary election this year includes a constitutional amendment on abortion rights, and that’s attracting attention from people who normally don’t vote in primaries.

That may have caused confusion for voters who aren’t used to casting a primary ballot or are not affiliated with a political party and are unsure whether they are eligible to vote.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, who oversees elections in the state, said all Kansas voters are eligible to cast a primary ballot.

Schwab said the amendment on the ballot means all registered Kansans can vote during the primary, regardless of political affiliation. He encourages all Kansas voters to cast a ballot.

“The constitutional amendment will be on all ballots regardless of one’s party affiliation,” Schwab said in an interview. “Even if you’re an unaffiliated voter, please go vote, because it’s your constitution.”

Normally, primary elections are used for Republican and Democratic voters to select a candidate for political offices — such as the Republican primary for attorney general this year. But the Kansas Legislature upended that process by adding the constitutional amendment to the Aug. 2 ballot, opening the primary to all Kansas voters.

The amendment vote will determine whether the state constitution should include a provision that says it does not provide access to abortion. That’s in response to a 2019 court ruling that said the right to abortion is protected by the Kansas Constitution.

The question about unaffiliated voters is relevant to many Kansans because nearly 30% of the state’s registered voters are unaffiliated.

There’s still time to register to vote before the election. The final day for new voters to register for the primary is July 12 and the final day to request an advance mail ballot is July 26. There’s an earlier deadline for voters who are already registered but want to change parties. That must be done by June 10.

New voters may register in person at their county election office or online. There are also paper forms that can be filled out and returned to the county election office.

Unaffiliated voters will not need to do anything special to make sure they receive a ballot with the constitutional amendment question on it. Schwab said county election offices will know which ballot to give unaffiliated voters. It won’t include any of the Democratic and Republican primary races but will include the constitutional amendment.

Voters who cast a ballot in person will need to bring a photo ID.

Schwab also encourages any voters who request an advance mail ballot to turn the ballot into a ballot drop box, rather than mailing it in. He said that will make sure mail ballots won’t get lost by the U.S. Postal Service and will arrive on time to be counted.

Dylan Lysen reports on politics for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy. 

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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