The Sedgwick County Election Office is expecting a busy week as candidates rush to get on the ballot before this Friday’s filing deadline.
Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says by this time during the 2014 midterm, more than 400 candidates had filed to run in the fall elections. As of Friday, there were only about 220.
“So we know there [are] candidates still out there," she says. "We’re kind of just expecting we’re gonna get slammed in the next week.”
Candidates belonging to one of the parties recognized in Kansas — meaning Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians — have until June 1 at noon to file. Independent candidates have until Aug. 6, the day before the primary, to submit their petitions.
“We’re hoping we will get more candidates,” Lehman says, “because of course we believe that the more candidates that are on the ballot, the more that’s gonna drive voter turnout.”
Friday is also the deadline for voters to change their party affiliation. After June 1, anyone affiliated with a certain party has to remain with that party, at least until the primary. Unaffiliated voters or first-time registrants can still join a party.
“How we explain it is, you know … on June 1 at noon if you’re wearing a coat, that coat has to stay on. You can’t switch coats,” Lehman says. “But if you’re not wearing a coat, you can still grab a coat all the way up to Election Day.”
The deadline to register to vote in the primary is July 17. Lehman says there are about 292,000 registered voters in Sedgwick County, and just under 1.8 million in Kansas.