During the November mid-term election, state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau’s daughter was unable to vote while attending college in Texas. She intended to vote but her advanced ballot did not arrive in the mail until after the election. Last week, the Senate Ethics Committee heard amendments to Senate Bill 41 that would allow students attending a college or university outside the state to vote electronically. Under current Kansas law, voters in the armed services and their families residing outside the U.S. may request to vote through electronic means either through their county elections officer or the secretary of state. SB 41 recognizes that out-of-state residents cannot always vote timely by mail. Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, the committee’s ranking minority member, said an electronic voting method would have allowed her daughter and other out-of-state students to cast their votes. “I just see…the students, especially in that age category, casting their vote electronically,” Faust-Goudeau said. “It’s what they do now.”
Bryan Caskey, a representative for the secretary of state’s office, said voters, including students, have been successfully using the current voting system since 1996. He said the county election offices mail advanced ballots 20 days before the election, giving voters an ample amount of time to cast their votes. “There is no rational basis for college students attending college out of state to be treated more favorably than other Kansans who are temporarily out of state, be it for work, traveling on vacation or attending to personal matters,” Caskey said.
Electronic methods include email and fax, which by law must be printed and hand counted, adding time and expenses to tabulating votes that would otherwise be counted by standard machines at polling places, Caskey said.