Election and voting rules can be arcane and hard to understand, but with some deadlines approaching, Kansans need to know how the rules might affect them.
If you want to change your party affiliation — Democrat to Republican or vice versa — for the Aug. 4 primary election, the deadline is June 1.
Different rules apply for Kansans who are unaffiliated and want to vote in the primary. If you don’t belong to a party and plan to vote by mail — absentee voting in Kansas — you’ll need to jump through some hoops.
Kansas requires that you register as a Republican or a Democrat to participate in primary elections. And if you change parties or declare a party affiliation online, you must do that separately from requesting an absentee ballot online. That’s what I was told by the Sedgwick County election office.
Over the past 10 years or so, voting rules have grown more restrictive in many states.
The cited reason is that more hoops and hurdles are necessary to protect the integrity of elections. But Republicans have admitted that they increase their chances of winning by making it harder for some citizens to vote.
It’s with that information in mind that Americans should view President Donald Trump’s opposition to absentee and mail ballots.
Mail ballots and absentee ballots are often used interchangeably, but not all mail ballots are absentee ballots, and not all absentee ballots get mailed. For the purpose of discussing voting access, there’s good reason to discuss the two in tandem.
A few states, including Colorado, Utah and Washington, use mail ballots widely.
This year a growing number of other states are encouraging people to use absentee ballots to vote by mail because of the pandemic. Voting by mail helps protect voters, staff and volunteers from infection.
But Trump falsely alleges mailed ballots are part of widespread, illegal schemes to cheat.
He has falsely claims that widespread voter fraud occurred in California, Florida and elsewhere. Trump also falsely accused Michigan officials of illegally mailing absentee ballots, and he threatened to cut federal funds to the state.
Michigan’s secretary of state pointed out that what the state did — mail out applications to make it easier for voters to request absentee ballots — is what officials have done in such places as Iowa, Nebraska and West Virginia.
Those states have Republican governors. Trump targeted Michigan because it’s run by a Democrat, so he could rant about how Democrats are corrupt.
As he did in 2016, he’s working to make his opponents seem worse than he is. He knows he is viewed as dishonest, and he wants voters to believe Democrats are even worse.
The president’s lies and assaults on ethical standards have altered our perceptions of what is normal and what is acceptable.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the sense that our “normal” might be gone forever.
If Americans feel that they risk illness or being part of a corrupt system to vote, they’re more likely to skip the whole thing. And as numerous Republicans have pointed out, lower participation typically favors Republicans.
We shouldn’t let cynicism and fear shape the new normal.
Our minimum expectations of leadership should include building trust in U.S. elections and encouraging Americans to participate in them — by mail, by using advance voting sites or by going to the polls on election day.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.