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Responsive Gov’s Grade TL;DR

After several sessions of tension between the Kansas Legislature’s anti-voter tendencies and the governor’s more pro-voter stance, this last session saw less substantial changes to the state’s election laws. The Legislature also managed to pass a technical corrections bill to modernize and update several portions of the election code, with bipartisan support, that was championed by the secretary of state. Therefore, Kansas received a C- on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Kansas Started at the Beginning of 2023

  • Automatic Voter Registration: No
  • Online Voter Registration: No
  • Same-Day Registration: No
  • Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: No
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: Strict Photo ID

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Kansas as of 2022, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2023 activity against other bottom tier states.

How Our Tier Compares

  • COVI (2022): 40th
  • EPI Score (2020): 44th
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 8/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): FAIR

2023: This Past Year

Legislative Action

The Kansas Legislature continued to introduce anti-voter legislation this past session. Fortunately, only a very small number of those bills ultimately became law. The Legislature also managed to pass bipartisan-supported legislation that updates and modernizes the election code.

  • H 2053 extends the deadlines around participating in presidential primaries to make participation more difficult: voters can only register up to 31 days before the primary (instead of the standard 21 days), voters must request mail ballots 30 days before the primary (instead of the Tuesday before the election), and all ballots must be returned by the close of polls (instead of allowing ballots postmarked by election to be received 3 days after).
  • S 106 prohibits election officials from sending unsolicited ballots to voters unless it is a universal mail ballot election or the voter is on the limited mail voting list.
  • S 221 requires county election office websites to include easily accessible voter information, such as polling hours and sample ballots and establishes new election crimes for tampering with election equipment, among other things.

Executive Action

  • Governor Kelly vetoed S 209, which contained both anti and pro-voter policies. While the bill would have shortened the deadline to return mail ballots, it also would have explicitly allowed voters to return mail ballots to drop boxes and satellite election offices.