TOPEKA, Kansas – Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants to remind Kansas voters about changes in election law and party practice that will impact the primary election on August 5.
Changing Political Parties
Registered voters who are affiliated with a political party, and who want to change to a different party or become unaffiliated before the upcoming primary, have until June 30 this year to do so. A new law passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2014 forbids party members from switching parties during a period beginning on the day of the candidate filing deadline through the date when the results of the August primary are certified. The filing deadline normally is at noon on June 1, but the first day of the affiliation prohibition this year is July 1 because the law does not go into effect until July 1.
The electorate should be aware of the following specifics.
- Registered voters who are affiliated with a party may not file paperwork to change their party affiliations from July 1 through August this year.
- Persons who file paperwork to change parties during the prohibited period will be asked to re-file the document September 1 or after.
- Democrats may not switch to Republican or vice versa, and switches to and from the Libertarian Party also are prohibited.
- Members of a party may not disaffiliate from their party and become unaffiliated during this period.
- Registered voters who are unaffiliated may affiliate with a party during this period and also when voting at the primary or requesting an advance ballot.
Democratic Party Closed Primaries
Since 2004 the two major political parties have determined their own rules for who may vote in their respective primaries. This year the Democratic Party changed its rules to be the same as the Republican Party rules have been.
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party now have closed primaries. A closed primary means that voters already affiliated with a particular party may vote in that party’s primary. An unaffiliated voter who officially affiliates with a particular party at the time of voting may vote that party’s ballot.