Since early voting began Oct. 14, Douglas County has seen a record number of early voters and mail-in ballots cast.
The University of Kansas is encouraging as many students as possible to exercise their right to vote this year, with Election Day approaching on Nov. 3.
Student Senate Government Relations Director Logan Stenseng said one of his priorities has been to increase voter education throughout KU. He believes with more information readily available, youth participation will grow.
“In times like these when we live in such divisive, politically polarizing times and uncertain times, we can all come together around that idea that voting is integral to our democracy and that we should try to empower as many people as possible,” Stenseng said. “Especially new voters that often, because of a lack of information, don’t participate.”
There are a number of resources for students to ensure their vote is counted, including student organizations tabling to notarize absentee ballots and answer general questions.
The Douglas County Elections Office mailed a record number of 29,200 ballots on the first day of early voting, Oct. 14, the office shared online. The county also set a record of over 700 in-person voters at the four early voting locations open. As of Oct. 19, the elections office had received over 6,000 ballots in its drop boxes.
Today was record setting, we mailed over 29,200 ballots to voters, for the 1st time we opened 4 adv locations on the 1st day which also set a record of over 700 in-person voters. Thank you to the staff and volunteers who made this 1st day happen, tomorrow is day 2!— Douglas Co Elections (@dgcokselections) October 15, 2020
Stenseng also said the Center for Service Learning is working to encourage votership across campus.
“They are really being active in creating a coalition of folks that are faculty members, staff members, administrators as well as students that are these civic engagements ambassadors that can represent civic engagement efforts in their departments,” Stenseng said.
KU is hosting Civic Engagement Office Hours in partnership with the Douglas County Clerk’s office, giving students a space to ask questions about upcoming elections. It began Oct. 9.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, County Clerk Jamie Shew said Douglas County lost 16 polling locations out of 60. Individuals can find their polling location by going to the Douglas County Elections Offices' website. Voters must be registered in the county they intend to vote in.
“One common misperception that students have is just because you’re registered in Kansas, does not mean you can vote anywhere in Kansas,” Shew said. “You have to vote in the county in which you’re registered, it’s not a statewide system.”
Shew recommended students take a look at their sample ballot, which is available online through the Douglas County Elections Offices, and pay attention to races beyond the presidential election.
“There are races for state representatives and state senate, even county races that impact student’s lives probably more than the president,” Shew said. “They impact the University’s life, that it’s really important that they know what’s on that full ballot and be prepared to vote that full ballot.”
The Lied Center will open as an early voting location on Oct. 26. It will be open on Election Day as a polling location for those who are registered to vote in Precinct 10, which covers mainly Daisy Hill residents, Shew said. Students may also vote by mail or in other designated polling locations across Douglas County.
Four early voting locations in Douglas County are currently open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.:
- Douglas County Clerk’s Office — 1100 Massachusetts St.
- Douglas County Fairgrounds — Flory Meeting Hall, 2120 Harper St.
- Lawrence Golf Course Superintendents Association Headquarters — 1421 Research Park
- Lawrence S. Iowa Satellite Office – 2329 S. Iowa St (behind Texas Roadhouse)
Additional early voting locations will open Oct. 24.
Absentee ballots can be returned any time before Nov. 3 at one of the following secure drop box locations, or to any polling place on election day:
- Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence
- Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper Street, Lawrence
- Douglas County Human Services Building, 2518 Ridge Court, Lawrence
- S. Iowa Satellite Office, 2329 S. Iowa (behind Texas Roadhouse), Lawrence
- Treasurer’s South Satellite Office, 2000 W. 31st Street, Suite B, Lawrence
- Golf Course Superintendents Headquarters, 1421 Research Park Drive, Lawrence
- Theatre Lawrence, 4660 Bauer Farm Drive, Lawrence
- Baldwin City City Hall, 803 8th Street, Baldwin City
- Eudora City Hall, 4 E. 7th Street, Eudora
- Lecompton City Hall, 327 Elmore Street, Lecompton
More information on voting in Douglas County, including sample ballots and a mail-in ballot tracker, can be found at douglascountyelections.com.