In less than a week, voters across the state will hopefully race to the polls in large numbers to cast their votes in the 2019 party primary elections and Sunflower County election officials are gearing up because the local ballot will be chock-full with some incumbents going up against a field of hopefuls.
Sunflower County Circuit Clerk Carolyn Hamilton said she is not anticipating any hiccups. “Sunflower County usually follows the rules,” she said. Nevertheless, there are a few things voters should know before heading off to the polls and foremost on the list is that a valid photo ID will be required.
Hamilton said the identification can be a driver’s license, college identification card, state-issued ID card or any official form of photo identification. She said if the person does not have one the circuit clerk’s office can issue a temporary card for voter identification purposes only.
Also, the individual can only vote in the precinct where they live. If they have moved and not changed their registration, Hamilton encourages them to contact her office to verify their voting precinct based on where they currently reside. “If it has changed then you will go to the correct polling place to vote on affidavit ballot,” she said.
In addition, because the upcoming election is a party primary, voters will have to inform the poll managers of whether they are voting Democrat or Republican before a ballot can be issued. Hamilton said she is aware that some see this as a privacy infringement, but it is a state law, “We cannot get around that,” said Hamilton.
Because of the law, voters who cast their ballot Democrat in the Aug. 6 primary will also be required to vote Democrat if there is a runoff on August 27 and the same applies to those who will vote Republican.
Hamilton said the new electronic system would alert the poll managers in the event someone tries to change parties during the runoff. Also noteworthy is that if a person does not vote on Aug. 6, they can still vote in the Aug. 27-runoff and use the party’s ballot of their choice.
Conversely, in the November general election and any subsequent runoffs, voters will be able to cast their ballot for any single candidate in any race regardless of party affiliation all on the same ballot. “You can cross over in the general election,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton also stated that many people may not be aware that they can register and vote in the primary election if they are 17-years-old and will be 18 before the November general election.
Addressing some misconceptions surrounding the election and voting process, Hamilton said that she wanted to make certain things clear. One mistaken belief is that the entire ballot becomes invalid and is tossed out if you leave the boxes empty in one particular race. Hamilton said that is not true. “You can go to the poll and vote for one person, cast your ballot and that vote will count,” she said.
In contrast to that, if a person casts a vote for two candidates in the same race, then neither vote will be counted for that race only, but the whole ballot will not be thrown out.
Hamilton added that in situations where voters are not happy with any of the choices listed, some do write in other names and despite the belief that those names and votes are not taken into account, Hamilton said they are, “Yeah we check it,” she said. However, only the notable entries are included, Daffy Duck is a regular write-in.
Hamilton said she doesn’t anticipate any issues, but advises any voter who may run into problems, such as their name not being in the poll book or if they receive an incorrect ballot, to make contact with the poll managers to get it addressed. She assures that the poll managers are trained, knowledgeable and have an established procedure to follow for any issue and will follow it.
She also urges the voters to be aware that some candidates’ names may not appear on their particular ballot due to the way district lines are drawn up. Hamilton said it has necessitated the development of multiple ballot styles to accommodate everyone.
There are also certain rules that pertain to poll watchers, loitering and voter assistance that must be strictly adhered. Hamilton said voters needing assistance must notify the poll managers and once their inability to vote is validated, let the managers know who they want to assist them, but it cannot be a poll watcher, known relative of a candidate or a person in a supervisory position over the individual.
There are also new regulations in effect for curbside voting that allow only for the person voting to remain in the car when the ballot is being cast unless the other passenger is physically disabled. “If you are a hauler, you (will) need to get out of the car before we do the ballot,” Hamilton said.
Her office will be open this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon for absentee voting. And Monday at 5 p.m. is the last day to receive absentee ballots by mail.