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Kansans must protect their own votes
Plan now to vote in the November election
Your Vote Counts.jpg

Whether you intend to cast your ballot early or wait until election day, it’s not too early to think about the November election. Plan ahead to ensure your vote will be counted.

Patrick R. Miller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas, reminds us that Kansas voters have the power to protect their own votes. “Plan ahead. Choose the voting method that works best for you. Act early. Act responsibly. Advocate for yourself,” Miller writes.

We’ve heard the accounts of frustrated voters in other states – and even in Dodge City, Kansas – who faced obstacles in casting their ballots. Here in Barton County, the number of polling stations has decreased as it becomes more difficult to staff each station. However, we are not aware of any voter being burdened by the change, nor have people had to wait in long lines to vote. If you have had a different experience, let us know!

Barton County has also taken steps to protect poll workers and in-person voters from COVID-19.

Voting early at the courthouse or by mail ballot is also an option. Miller writes, “In 2016, nearly 25% of voters nationally voted by mail, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Election officials rejected nearly 320,000 of those ballots — about 1%. Already in 2020, over 500,000 mail ballots have been disqualified nationally in primaries, per National Public Radio.”

Voting by mail is safe, but it does have to be done right.

In most cases, mail ballots were disqualified due to human error. Voters used the wrong color of ink, or a pencil when a pen was required, or made stray marks on their ballots. Some failed to sign the return envelope. Some made the mistake of signing the ballot rather than the envelope. Barton County’s most common errors were missing the postmark and return deadlines or failing to affix the required $1 postage on the return envelope.

The bottom line is, if you plan to vote by mail, it is your responsibility to follow the directions. In Kansas, mail ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and delivered to the courthouse by Friday, Nov. 6. By the way, you can save the postage and make sure it arrives in time if you bring the signed return envelope directly to the courthouse.

During the primary, some ballots didn’t arrive in time or arrived later in the week (on time) but without a postmark. Why wait? If you intend to vote by mail, request your ballot now and return it as soon as possible. If you were mailing a bill payment that was due on Nov. 3, wouldn’t you allow five business days to make sure you didn’t get a late fee? That would mean confidently mailing a ballot no later than Oct. 27.

Voter registration closes Tuesday, Oct. 13. At the Barton County website,, you can check your registration, find your polling place and see a sample ballot. You can even learn about how to volunteer on election day.

Whatever you intend to do, plan ahead.