Voting began Monday, March 30, in the 2020 Kansas Democratic presidential primary with all registered Democrats to receive ballots via mail. In light of COVID-19, the primary will be conducted completely by mail and there will be no in-person voting on May. 2.
The election is being conducted by the Kansas Democratic Party, said the KDP’s Reeves Oyster. There is no involvement from county election offices.
Ballots are pre-paid and do not require a stamp. On April 7, the KDP will send a supplemental ballot mailing to recently-registered Democrats who were not included in the first mailing of 400,000.
All mail-in ballots must be postmarked by the May 2 election date.
This marks the first presidential primary in Kansas since 1992, replacing what had been a caucus system, Oyster said. Party officials visited with party members across the state and the consensus was that a primary would be more accessible to voters.
Oyster said the party had planned a mail-in election for over a year, so the coronavirus didn’t present a problem. “We were ahead of the curve.”
How it works
Voters will rank their top five candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Jason Grill speaking for FairVote, a national non-partisan organization promoting election reform. The nonprofit works with elections around the country.
If a candidate receives fewer than a minimum 15% of all first-choice votes, that candidate’s votes will be reallocated to the next preferred viable candidate until all candidates remaining receive at least 15%, Grill said.
Because the KDP is holding the Kansas primary in May and its proposal is in full compliance with the Democratic National Committee, Kansas has been awarded a 20% bonus in delegates for a total of 47 delegates instead of the original 39. The delegates will be assigned to candidates based on the primary results, which will be released as soon as they are available.
Kansas is one of five states using Ranked Choice Voting in its Democratic presidential primary, Grill said. This is the first time Kansas has used Ranked Choice Voting, which will allow voters to rank as many, or as few, candidates as they’d like, giving them more say in the outcome of the election.
So far in 2020, the KDP notes they have seen nearly 2.2 million wasted votes in the Democratic Presidential Primary – 9% of the vote. These votes were cast for candidates who have now withdrawn.
Kansas implementing Ranked Choice Voting in 2020 means that there will be zero wasted votes in the state.