New Kansas law boosts voter protections for mail-in ballots

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new law in Kansas would let all registered voters cast a ballot at any polling place in their county on Election Day.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed the legislation, which her office says will expand and improve voting opportunities.

The decision on whether voters can go to any polling place in the county will be up to the respective counties.

Shawnee Co. Asst. Election Commissioner Mark A. Stock told 13 NEWS that their office has not decided whether or not they will do it. He explained the Secretary of State's Office will still need to set the rules and regulations for implementing the law, at which point the county can do cast/benefit analysis.

Kelly also signed a bill that requires election officials to notify voters before their mail-in ballots are thrown out because of signature problems.

An Associated Press analysis of rejected ballots in the 2018 primary in the state's most populous county found that 153 mail-in ballots were not counted because of signatures that didn't match county voting records.

Then-Secretary of State Kris Kobach defeated then-Gov. Jeff Colyer for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in that race by only 343 votes. The close Republican primary highlighted differences in how Kansas counties handled mail-in ballots.

The legislation Kelly signed Monday gives voters an additional week or longer to provide a signature.