Early, in-person voting underway in Sedgwick County
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The drive to get voters to the polls is now in full force across Kansas. And in this election year featuring a pandemic, mail-in and early voting is anticipated to play a prominent role. Already, there’s been record turnout reported for early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. The drive to get voters to make their voices heard has election officials busy and thinking in creative ways as political parties try to court every voter they can to cast a ballot.
The first wave of mail-in ballots is making its way to mailboxes across Kansas. In Sedgwick County, early, in-person voting started Monday (Oct. 19) at the Sedgwick County Election Office and at INTRUST Bank Arena, which will serve as a “mega-site” for all voters - allowing more space for advance voters to socially distance. Charles Koch Arena will open its doors - for one day only - on Oct. 22 allowing Wichita State University students, faculty, and staff the option to vote early on campus.
This is in addition to 16 early-voting sites across the county that will be open during the last week of October:
- Bel Aire City Building: 7651 E. Central Park, Bel Aire
- Goddard District Conference Center: 311 South Main, Goddard
- Grace Presbyterian Church: 5002 E. Douglas Ave., Wichita
- Haysville Community Library: 210 Hays Ave., Haysville
- Machinists Building, 3830 S. Meridian Ave., Wichita
- Park City City Hall: 1941 E. 61st St. N. Park City
- Progressive Missionary Baptist Church: 2727 E. 25th st. N., Wichita
- Reformation Lutheran: 7601 E. 13th St. N., Wichita
- Sedgwick County Extension Office: 7001 W. 21st St. N., Wichita
- SEIU Building: 3340 W. Douglas Ave., Wichita
- Sharon Baptist Church: 2221 S. Oliver, Wichita
- St. Andrew’s Lutheran: 2555 Hyacinth Ln., Wichita
- Valley Center Community Center: 314 Clay, Valley Center
- Westlink Church of Christ: 10025 W. Central Ave., Wichita
- Woodland Lakes Community Church: 770 S. Greenwich Rd., Wichita
- Woodlawn Methodist Church: 431 S. Woodlawn Blvd., Derby
With about two weeks to go until the general election, the Sedgwick County Democratic and Republican parties want to make every second count and work to answer voters' questions and make them aware of their options to cast a ballot.
“(There are) lots of opportunities to be involved and engaged. No reason we can’t get that number up higher, 70 (percent) for election turnout,” Sedgwick County Republican Party Executive Director Ben Sauceda said.
Sedgwick County Democratic Party Chair Joseph Shepard said the county has worked hard to ensure that the general election is safe and fair.
By the time doors opened to the mega-voting site at INTRUST Bank Arena Monday morning, people were lining up to bet in. Some voters there said the line was shorter than what they were expecting.
“It wasn’t bad at all. We thought it was going to be a lot longer, but people are just staying. They’re six feet apart, so it looks a lot longer than what it really is,” said early voter Daniel Bustamante. “we got by within 25 minutes, all the way inside, voted, the whole process.”
Once inside the arena, the process was quick for many voters. As long as you’re a registered voter, all you need to vote is a government-issued ID.
“Once you get in, they’ve got everything pretty streamlined,” said early-voter Leo Warne, voting in his first presidential election. “There’s like several check-in points. There’s so many machines. The hold up is the check-in.”
The Sedgwick County Election Office is seeing one reoccurring problem: People who requested an advanced ballot but are still showing up in-person for early voting.
“The first totals released on Election Night are from early voting and advance ballot by mail, so please vote that paper ballot that we mailed you,” said Sedgwick County Deputy Election Commissioner Melissa Schneiders.
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