OPINION: What to know about voting by mail

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(Archive Photo | Collegian Media Group)

Now that you have registered to vote, or updated your information last week on National Voter Registration Day, here’s what you need to know about exercising your constitutional right.

With so many different deadlines, requirements and not to mention the actual candidates themselves, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the entire process.

However, recent changes have made it easier to vote by mail and ensure your ballot is counted.

This year, for the first time, voters can track their applications and the ballot itself through Kansas Secretary of State VoterView.

Mail your ballot with plenty of time

All ballots must be postmarked on or before election day and received in the county election office by the close of business on the Friday following the election, so it’s best to mail your ballot with plenty of time to ensure that it’s counted.

In Kansas, there are no special requirements for advance voting, all you have to do is request a ballot by filling out a form and mailing it to your respective county election office by Oct. 27.

Signature must match drivers license

However, even if you do everything right and get your ballot mailed on time, many people don’t realize there are still reasons your ballot can be rejected.

As mail-in votes are subjected to a bit more scrutiny, your ballot might not be counted if your signature does not match what is on your voter registration record.

NPR reported that more than half a million absentee ballots were rejected in the primaries this year, which might not seem like a lot in the whole scheme of things, but is a significant increase from the 2016 general election, and could prove pivotal on a local and national scale.

Advance vote in person

If you forget to request an advance ballot or know you can’t vote on election day, voters also have the option to advance vote in person up to 20 days before the election.

While voting by mail offers the ability to research candidates on the ballot at your leisure, in-person advance voting is more convenient in the sense that you don’t have to request a ballot and worry about it getting there on time.

In-person advance voting will vary depending on where you live, so it is necessary to check when your county is offering it.

If you plan to vote in person, advance or the day of the election, remember to bring a valid photo ID — options can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. If you forget your ID or it is expired, you can still request a provisional ballot.

If it weren’t for the sacrifices made by countless activists before us, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to exercise this right that is so crucial to democracy. Having the option to vote by mail or advance vote in person makes the right more accessible than ever, and we should consequently take advantage of the convenience they afford.

Rebecca Vrbas is the Collegian culture editor and a senior in journalism. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.