Most of us have a week to go before the Big Vote. Kansans can cast their ballots early (and many are doing so), but Missourians have to wait until Nov. 8. For everyone who wants to vote on Election Day, here are some things you need to know:
1. What’s my registration status?
It doesn’t hurt to check before you go.
Both Kansas and Missouri residents can check online to see if they’re registered to vote. (The Missouri voter site may provide a sample ballot, or you should be able to get one through your local election authority.)
For Kansans who registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles before the Oct. 18 deadline, the receipt you got when you submitted your application was wrong. If you registered at the DMV or otherwise with the federal form, you can vote in all races, federal, state and local, even if you haven’t provided proof of citizenship like the state form requires. That should be reflected in the voter database.
2. What if my name isn’t on the list?
If you registered at the last minute in Kansas, or if your registration had been suspended during the back-and-forth over proof of citizenship rules, your name could be in a supplemental poll book. So if the poll worker is thumbing through a paper poll book and your name isn’t there, ask them to double check. If your county uses electronic poll books, those get updated, and so long as you properly registered and showed up at the right polling place your name should be in there.
It’s possible a Missouri voter could end up on a supplemental list. The process varies by election jurisdiction, according to Stephanie Fleming, spokeswoman for Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. “As far as the voter is concerned,” she writes in an email, “if they registered by the deadline and are eligible to vote, they will be able to do so.”
3. Do provisional ballots count?
Not on Election Day.
In Kansas, if a poll worker can’t locate your voter registration, you may be asked to vote with a provisional ballot. You’ll be given information on how to follow up to see if your ballot is accepted, but your vote won’t be counted until the county canvass, typically the Monday after the election. Then the county abstracts go to the Secretary of State who schedules a meeting of the state board of canvassers for the first day of the next month after an election (Dec. 1).
In Missouri, if the person named on the provisional ballot affidavit is found to be a properly qualified voter, then their ballot is moved to the ballot box to be counted. Provisional ballots are included in certified election results. The board of state canvassers must convene by the second Tuesday in December.
4. Where’s my polling place?
You only get to vote at one designated location on Election Day.
5. Do I need to show a photo ID?
In Kansas, yes, you do. You’ll need to state your name and show photo ID, which could be a driver’s license, a non-driver ID card, your U.S. passport, a government or military ID, a Kansas college ID or even your concealed carry permit.
Missouri doesn’t currently require a photo ID to vote, but a proposed constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot Nov. 8 would change that. Missouri does require an ID, either with a photo or without. A utility bill or bank statement with name and address will suffice; check the complete list of accepted IDs here.
6. I don’t like my choices. Can I write in the name of my candidate/neighbor/pet?
Sure, so long as Fido registered with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office in advance. State law requires write-in candidates for president, vice president and all state offices elected on a statewide basis to file an affidavit of write-in candidacy by the noon on the second Monday before the general election. Here's the list of write-in candidates for president and vice president. You can write in any candidate of your choosing for Congress or down ballot legislative races in Kansas.
In Missouri, same thing. Write-in candidates have until 5 p.m. on the second Friday immediately prior to the election to file a declaration of intent. Candidates who lose their primaries are ineligible to run write-in campaigns, so votes for Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz won’t be counted. Lists of write-in candidates aren’t posted, but they are given to election judges.
7. Can I take a selfie?
It’s not explicitly prohibited, but ...
“Under Missouri law, voters cannot show their ballots to anyone with the intent of letting others know how they voted or how they’re about to vote,” Fleming said in a statement. “To be safe, voters should check with their local election authority before snapping a picture of their ballot to make sure they’re not violating Missouri election law."
Asked if it was okay to take a selfie with your ballot to show you’re participating in the democratic process, Flemming suggests taking a picture of your “I voted today!” sticker instead.
Similarly, in Kansas, ballot selfies are “discouraged but not against the law,” according to Desiree Taliaferro, spokesperson for the Kansas Secretary of State. She’s more concerned that people taking ballot selfies will slow down already long lines.
The manual for county election officials in Kansas has some pretty strong language about the reasons for banning cell phones from polling places. The manual says some county authorities have banned cell phones to prevent voter intimidation or concern over interference with electronic voting machines.
But, says Bryan Caskey, Director of Elections in the Secretary of State’s Office “a person who takes a picture and posts it to social media would not be violating Kansas law.”
8. Can I bring my gun?
In Kansas, it depends on where your polling place is located. After the state's gun law was revised, the state attorney general issued an advisory opinion in 2013 stating that "any concealed carry requirements that applied to that property immediately before its temporary use as a polling place continue to apply." That means some publicly owned buildings that serve as polling places must allow concealed weapons even on Election Day. However, public schools don't have to allow concealed carry and private buildings, such as churches, can opt to prohibit firearms on their premises. If guns are banned at your polling place, a sign should be posted saying so.
Missouri bans guns within 25 feet of polling places, though you can keep your gun in your vehicle on the premises so long as you don’t remove it or brandish it.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.
CORRECTION: This story has been revised to reference language concerning cell phones in polling places in Kansas in the most recently updated county election manual and has been corrected to state that concealed firearms are permitted in some polling places in Kansas.