Post updated at 3:28 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7:
There are local, state and national races on the ballot for Kansas’ Nov. 8 election, plus two more constitutional amendments and a question about expanding Douglas County’s government to add two additional commissioners.
Here’s what Lawrence and Douglas County voters should know.
See also this recent post, where we broke down news coverage of key races and ballot questions to make it easier to find what you’re looking for:
How can I register to vote?
Tuesday, Oct. 18 was the last chance to register to vote ahead of the Nov. 8 election. People who are U.S. citizens and residents of Kansas, and who are or will be at least 18 years old on or before Tuesday, Nov. 8, could register.
For future reference: Kansans can register to vote, double-check their voter registration and/or request a mail ballot online via KSVotes.org. You can sign electronically, and there are no forms to print and mail.
If you have a felony conviction in your background, you may register to vote once you have completed your sentence, including post-release. If you have pending felony charges but have not been convicted, you are presumed not guilty and you may register to vote, even if you’re in custody.
For other questions about voting rights, check this guide from the ACLU of Kansas. The ACLU has additional information about voting while unhoused at this link. People in Lawrence may use the DARE Center address (944 Kentucky St., Lawrence, KS, 66044) for voter registration, said Loring Henderson, executive director of the center.
Douglas County voters may also register by visiting this link, printing a voter registration application and mailing or delivering it to the Douglas County Election Office at 711 W. 23rd St., or fax or email the form back by following the instructions on the county’s website.
What’s on the ballot?
All registered Kansas voters can check which districts they’re in and see sample ballots by inputting their name and date of birth at this link on the Secretary of State’s website. Every Kansas voter, whether they are affiliated with a party or not, may vote in this election.
Local races and questions
Incumbent Patrick Kelly, a Democrat, faces Republican Justin Spiehs and Libertarian Steve Jacob.
Expansion to 5 Douglas County commission districts?
One question before local voters is whether the Douglas County commission should expand to include five commission seats rather than the current three.
Some proponents in favor of the expansion want increased representation for rural parts of Douglas County. However, districts must be as close to each other in size and population as possible. Because of the way the population is dispersed within the county, any five districts would still include a portion of the city, and it is possible that all five elected commissioners could be Lawrence residents.
A couple of potential benefits of expanding to add two additional commissioners include potential for greater diversity of thoughts, opinions and of the people serving; also, commissioners would each serve a smaller portion of the county population. With Douglas County’s population of about 121,300 (according to the 2020 census), each of three commissioners serves about 40,400 constituents; with five districts, that number would be about 24,300 constituents each.
A couple of potential drawbacks include increased cost to taxpayers — each commissioner is paid roughly $40,000 per year — and depending on how district maps are drawn and who runs, the change might do little to alleviate the concerns of the county’s rural residents who want greater representation. Only if voters approve the change would new maps be drawn.
One change that could be seen as positive or negative is that two commissioners would be able to discuss issues outside of meetings. Currently, a three-district commission means that two commissioners constitute a quorum, and a conversation between them is potentially a violation of Kansas open meetings laws. If there are five districts, two commissioners would be able to discuss issues outside of meetings without violating the law.
See what the commission candidates had to say about the question at this link.
Several other positions are on ballots for some Douglas County voters:
• Eudora Township Clerk: Keith Knabe, a Eudora Democrat, faces Jason Grems, a Eudora Republican.
• Lecompton City Council: Mary Jane Hoffer faces Stephanie Confer in this nonpartisan race.
• Lecompton Township Clerk: Jacob Rieb, a Lecompton Democrat, faces Mike Stewart, a Republican.
• Palmyra Township Clerk: Jenna Beason, a Baldwin City Democrat, faces Kirsten Kuhn, a Libertarian, and Justin Shafer, a Baldwin City Republican.
There are also several unopposed township clerk races. The sole candidates for those seats, according to the county’s website, are: Republican David Devore in Clinton; Democrat Chelsi Hayden in Grant; Republican Jeanne Waisner in Kanwaka; Republican Frank Rhodes in Marion; Republican Larry Bartz in Wakarusa; and Republican Clint Hornberger in Willow Springs.
State-level questions and races
More state constitutional amendments
Two amendments are on the ballot this fall. The Kansas Reflector published a detailed article about both, which we republished at this link.
• One deals with the governor’s power: “The Kansas Legislature currently has the ability to overturn executive rules and regulations by a two-thirds majority vote and a signature from the governor,” the Kansas Reflector reported. “This amendment would change that, authorizing the Legislature to revoke or suspend policies from the state executive by a simple majority vote, with no governor signature required. The amendment would shift power away from the governor and toward the legislature.”
• The other deals with the election of county sheriffs and the process to remove one from office: “The amendment on the Kansas county sheriff election and recall could help keep controversial Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden in his position,” the Reflector reported. “The amendment says counties that elected sheriffs in January 2022 can continue to elect sheriffs — meaning the sheriff’s position would be fixed as an elected position, instead of an appointed position for all but one of Kansas counties. … The amendment also stipulates the county sheriffs can only be removed from office by a recall election or if the attorney general challenges their right to hold office.”
Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister wrote his own Q&A document about the sheriffs amendment. That is available at this link.
Proponents of the “vote no” movement ahead of the Aug. 2 primary election have largely encouraged voters to continue voting no to these proposed amendments.
Kansas House of Representatives
Here are the districts that include parts of Lawrence and Douglas County, and who is running for those Kansas House seats. Most House candidates in Douglas County-area districts do not face opponents in the general election; they are listed below.
This district is mostly in Johnson County but includes a small portion of southwestern Douglas County, roughly from North 200 and East 2100 roads north and east to North 700 Road and the county line.
Keith Davenport, a Gardner Democrat, faces Bill Sutton, a Gardner Republican.
This is a new district that includes parts of Douglas County, mostly southeast of Lawrence, and meanders east to include parts of Eudora, De Soto, Lenexa and Shawnee as well as parts of rural Douglas and Johnson counties.
Courtney Tripp, a De Soto Democrat, faces Adam Turk, a Shawnee Republican.
District 5: Carrie Barth, a Baldwin City Republican
District 10: Christina Haswood, a Lawrence Democrat
District 42: Lance W. Neelly, a Tonganoxie Republican
District 44: Barbara W. Ballard, a Lawrence Democrat
District 45: Mike Amyx, a Lawrence Democrat
District 46: Dennis “Boog” Highberger, a Lawrence Democrat
District 47: Ronald Ellis, a Meriden Republican
More state offices
Governor of Kansas:
• Laura Kelly for governor with David Toland for lieutenant governor, Democrats (incumbents)
• Derek Schmidt for governor with Katie Sawyer for lieutenant governor, Republicans
• Seth Cordell for governor with Evan Laudick-Gains for lieutenant governor, Libertarians
• Dennis Pyle for governor with Kathleen E. Garrison for lieutenant governor, Independents
Kansas Secretary of State:
Kansas Attorney General:
Kansas State Treasurer:
Kansas Insurance Commissioner:
This year, six of the seven Kansas Supreme Court justices and seven of 14 Kansas Court of Appeals judges face retention votes.
“The state Supreme Court voted to uphold abortion rights in 2019, when a majority hearing the case ruled the Kansas Bill of Rights protected the right to an abortion,” the Kansas Reflector reported. “Pro-life activists are now campaigning to unseat these judges and create an anti-abortion court.”
The Kansas News Service also wrote about this topic and why it’s getting more attention this year. Read more at this link.
In Douglas County District Court, judges Amy Hanley, Sally Pokorny and Stacey Donovan face retention votes.
U.S. House of Representatives
In the redistricting process, Lawrence was gerrymandered into District 1, which stretches west to the Colorado border. The rest of Douglas County remains in District 2. See a map of the districts at this link via the county’s website, or check your own voter information to determine your district by inputting your information at this link.
Voters have the opportunity to select the senate candidate they’d like to send to Washington, D.C. to represent Kansas for the next six years.
David C. Graham is running as a Libertarian; Mark Holland is running as a Democrat; and incumbent Jerry Moran is running for another term as a Republican.
How can I vote?
• Vote on Election Day
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. As long as you are in line to vote at your assigned polling place by 7 p.m., you will be given the opportunity to vote.
You will need to bring a state-issued ID (such as a driver’s license) to vote in person. All registered Kansas voters can check which districts they’re in, see sample ballots and find their assigned polling places by inputting their name and date of birth at this link on the Secretary of State’s website.
More Douglas County voting information — including ways to look up your polling place or help someone else find theirs — is available at this link.
• Vote at your own pace with a mail ballot
Advance voting began Wednesday, Oct. 19. Kansas voters can request a mail ballot online via KSVotes.org. You can sign electronically, and there are no forms to print and mail.
Douglas County voters may also follow these instructions on the county’s website to fill out an application to request a mail ballot.
You may request that a ballot be mailed to you at a different address from the one at which you’re registered to vote. Douglas County does not require a stamp to mail your ballot back.
Ballots can be mailed back or dropped in a drop box outside the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.; at the county elections office at 23rd and Louisiana; at Eudora, Lecompton and Baldwin city halls; at the Golf Course Superintendents Building or at Flory Meeting Hall. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, Nov. 8, or dropped into a dropbox by 7 p.m. that day to be counted.
The last day to request an advance ballot was Tuesday, Nov. 1.
• Vote early in person
In-person early voting began Wednesday, Oct. 19. You will need to bring a state-issued ID (such as a driver’s license) to vote in person.
Poll hours and locations, according to Douglas County’s website:
• 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays beginning Wednesday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 28 at the Douglas County Elections Office, 711 W. 23rd St., Suite 1, in Lawrence (at 23rd and Louisiana streets; click here for a Google map)
• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 at the elections office in Lawrence and at Eudora, Lecompton and Baldwin city halls
• 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 through Friday, Nov. 4 at the elections office in Lawrence
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 through Friday, Nov. 4 at the Golf Course Superintendents Building, Flory Meeting Hall and the Lied Center Pavilion
• 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 7: Last chance to vote early at the elections office in Lawrence before polls reopen for Election Day