The next general election is just a week away. While some Barton County residents have already voted, others are wondering what will be on their ballots. A lot of the information is available online, according to the staff at the Barton County Clerk’s Office.
How to see your ballot
To see your Nov. 5 ballot online, search for Kansas Voter View in a browser or go to myvoteinfo.voteks.org. This will take you to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Voter View homepage. Click on “Registration Information.” Enter your county, first and last name, and date of birth and click “search.” This will take an individual who is registered to vote to his or her “registrant detail,” with a link to a sample ballot. The page also shows all of the voter’s districts, from city wards and school districts to the Kansas Senate and Kansas Representative, and election voting history. “Upcoming election detail” shows where to vote on election day. There’s also a link so advance voters can view the status of their ballots to determine when their ballots were received by the county.
Another way to access this information is by going to the Barton County website, www.bartoncounty.org. Go to the menu bar at the top of the page and select departments. Click on “elections,” then click on “current elections” for a link to Voter View, which is the same information found by going to myvoteinfo.voteks.org.
The “Barton County elections” link on the county’s website also shows a list of all candidates who filed for office and whose names will appear on the ballots in their districts.
There are links to information on how to volunteer or apply to be an election worker.
Early voting is available now through the Barton County Clerk’s Office on the second floor of the courthouse. Advance voting by mail is available by application through the Barton County Clerk’s Office. Ballots must be returned to the Barton County Clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 5) or, if returning by mail, the ballot must be postmarked by Election Day OR the ballot may be returned to the voter’s polling location on Election Day.
The county website lists the three special questions in the county but does not include the statewide question on an amendment to the Kansas Constitution. (You can see the statewide question by looking at your ballot.)
Questions include renewing city sales taxes that are currently in place but scheduled to end in Hoisington and Claflin; authorizing a township board to buy a building; and changing the Kansas Constitution to do away with a Census adjustment.
The questions are:
• Hoisington residents only - Shall a half-center retailers’ sales tax be levied in the City of Hoisington, to take effect Oct. 1, 2020? (vote yes or no)
• Claflin residents only - Shall a half-cent retailers’ sales tax be levied in the City of Claflin, for the next 10 years? (vote yes or no)
• Cheyenne Township residents only - Shall the Cheyenne Township Board purchase 1395 B. Kinzel St. in Odin, and the buildings on it, for a price not to exceed $52,000, to be used to store, repair and maintain township equipment? (vote yes or no)
• Statewide question - Shall the Kansas Constitution be amended to eliminate an adjustment of the U.S. Census before re-drawing Kansas senate and house of representative districts? (vote yes or no)
What the amendment would do
Kansas redraws its senate and house of representative districts every 10 years, and the population of each district is supposed to be roughly equal. Under current law, Kansas uses the U.S. Census numbers but tweaks those to exclude non-resident military personnel and students attending colleges in the state.
A “yes” vote would be for ending the adjustment to exclude non-resident military personnel and students for reapportionment. Instead, the state would just use the U.S. Census numbers for reapportionment of the district. Lawrence and Manhattan in particular would enjoy a higher population count.
A “no” vote would be for continuing the adjustment of the U.S. Census. The current policy of the state using its own numbers in addition to U.S. Census data to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts is unusual.
John Hanna, a political writer for the Associated Press, writes, “The adjustment counts college students and military personnel not where they’re living but in a ‘permanent’ home elsewhere — outside Kansas for thousands of them.
“Kansas is among only a few states that adjust federal census figures for redistricting, and before it started doing it in the 1990s, it did its own population counts for more than a century. Critics see the adjustment as archaic and expensive, and the proposed amendment had overwhelming bipartisan support as it slipped quietly through the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year.
“The biggest winners from the change likely would be Lawrence and Manhattan, home to the main campuses of the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. When the state last adjusted census figures in 2011, their counties lost 13% of their combined populations, more than 23,000 people, enough for a Kansas House seat between them.”
Secretary of State Scott Schwab supports the amendment and says if the Constitution isn’t amended, the next adjustment in 2022 will cost the state $835,000 because students and military personnel will have to be contacted and asked to state their “permanent residence.”
So far, there has been no organized opposition to the amendment.
New this year: Kansas election law requires a post-election audit be conducted after an election and prior to the meeting of the County Board of Canvassers. The county election officer is required to conduct a manual audit or tally of each vote cast in 1% of all precincts, with a minimum of one precinct. The precinct(s) shall be randomly selected and the selection shall take place after the election. Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman reports that for Barton County, her office will audit at least two races and two precincts for every primary and general election. The audit for the November 5 General Election will begin on Thursday, November 7, at 9 a.m.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.