National ‘get out the vote’ campaigns can create confusion locally


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While there are no shortage of catchy jingles and celebrity-laden TV and online snippets urging people to ‘rock the vote,’ local election officials say the one-size-fits all messaging can create a bit of confusion.

“The election laws are different in every state,” said Lauri Ealom, director of the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners. “For instance, in many states there is early voting, we don’t have what is called early voting. We have absentee, which requires an excuse, one of seven.”

Another major distinction between Missouri, when compared to the majority of states, including Kansas, is how mail-in voting is handled.

In Missouri, a voter must apply for a mail-in ballot and it will also require a notary.

“The mail-in is huge, that’s the biggest piece to point out,” Ealom said. “Mail-in has to come through the mail, has to be received on election day, and we don’t mail out ballots to every voter.”

Some states do mail a ballot to every registered voter. In Kansas, a mail-in ballot can be dropped off in person.

“In Kansas, you can walk it in here, you can drop it off at any one of our early voting sites,” said Bruce Newby, a Wyandotte County Election Commissioner. “And you could bring it on election day, to any polling place.”

And, unlike Missouri, Kansas offers no-excuse, early voting.

“Any registered voter can vote early, vote in advance, by mail, or early in-person,” Newby said. “There’s no reason required no nothing. It’s the way it’s been in Kansas for decades.”

Missouri allows for absentee voting in advance, if voters have a legitimate reason that they cannot make it to the polls on election day.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated there was no application for an early ballot in Kansas. Voters do need to fill out an application. That information has been corrected.


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