Kansas officials on Tuesday formally launched a new online system that they hope will make it easier for residents to register to vote and eliminate the need for casting provisional ballots.


Kansas officials on Tuesday formally launched a new online system that they hope will make it easier for residents to register to vote and eliminate the need for casting provisional ballots.

The Web site links the secretary of state’s office with the Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Residents may apply to register to vote, using data and an electronic signature verified through their driver’s license that already are on file.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh said the program, which was rolled out about three weeks ago, is the culmination of a multiphase project aimed at improving election participation. Since it launched, 88 Kansas residents have registered.

“An online voter registration application is the next step in making the traditional elections process easier, faster and cheaper,” Thornburgh said. “As technology continues to change and evolve, it is important that we implement strategies that will allow the citizens of Kansas to register in a way that is most convenient to them, without sacrificing the security and uniformity that sets our elections system apart.”

The application process takes minutes to complete, requiring residents to submit their name, address and driver’s license number. They may select a party affiliation if desired. The applications are downloaded each night and sent to counties to verify.

“We’ve simply removed paper from the process,” Thornburgh said.

He said residents can expect the county to issue a voter registration card within seven days of filing the application. Residents may apply to register up to 14 days before an election. About 60 percent of those currently registered to vote did so through the so-called motor voter process when getting or renewing a license, Thornburgh said.

Revenue and secretary of state information technology staff developed the online system using existing resources and staff, he said, keeping costs to a minimum.

A law passed in 2007 implemented several provisions that strengthened the security of the driver’s license system and allowed the Department of Revenue to share information with other federal, state or local governments.

“One of the reasons this works and works so well is we have a secure driver’s license system,” Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon said.

Thornburgh said the online system was no more susceptible to identity fraud than current paper applications, which can be picked up at numerous locations or downloaded from government Web sites. He said Kansas residents shouldn’t worry that the state is gathering other personal information during the process.

“We do not have a need for or a desire for e-mail addresses. And I’m not sure we have the authority for them,” he said.

Residents voting for the first time or in a new location must show identification to obtain a ballot. But Thornburgh said the new system should eliminate many of the clerical errors, such as spelling or addresses, that frequently cause a ballot to be cast provisionally and then counted separately by election officials after verification.

There were more than 1.72 million Kansas residents registered to vote as of January, the most recent figure available.

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On the Net:

Secretary of State’s office: http://www.kssos.org

Department of Revenue: https://www.kdor.org/voterregistration

Elections site: http://www.voteks.org