KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whether you’re a first-time voter or a seasoned pro, there’s a lot of information to make sure you’re up-to-date with before Tuesday’s general election.
Many polling places have changed, there’s a wide array of candidates and issues — beyond the ones you’ve seen in TV commercials for weeks now — and we’re about to go through another election during a pandemic.
If you’re heading to the polls on Tuesday, check out FOX4’s Election Day guide before you go to make sure you’re prepared.
How to preview your ballot
While everyone likely knows who’s running for president this year, make sure you’re familiar with all races and questions on your ballot before you head to the polls.
In Kansas, to find your sample ballot, visit the Secretary of State’s VoterView website and check your registration. There, the site will also provide you with your ballot for the upcoming election.
In Missouri, visit the Secretary of State’s Voter Outreach Center website and enter your address. It will provide you with the candidates and issues on your ballot.
You can even fill out and take your sample ballot with you to your polling place to help as you fill out the official ballot on Election Day.
How to find your polling location
Election officials are urging voters to double check their polling place before heading off to vote.
Many locations around the metro have changed because of the pandemic as election boards look for larger spaces to host voters. Officials have also noted that sites just change from election to election.
With turnout expected to be high, you’d hate to wait in line for an hour or two only to find out you’re at the wrong place.
In the Sunflower State, voters can visit the Kansas Secretary of State’s VoterView website to search for their polling place. Just enter your address, and the site will provide your location and its hours.
In Missouri, voters can also visit the Secretary of State’s website to find their polling location. Just enter your address, and the site will tell you where to go to cast your vote.
When do polls open and close?
In Missouri, all polls open at 6 a.m. on Nov. 3 and close at 7 p.m.
In Kansas, polls have to be open by 7 a.m. and can close at 7 p.m., but state law allows counties to open as early as 6 a.m. and close as late as 8 p.m. if they want. If you need to vote early or late, check the website for your county’s election board.
In both states, as long as you are in line by the time poll locations close — for example, 7 p.m. in Missouri — you are legally allowed to vote. If you arrive after they close, you will not be allowed to cast your ballot.
What to bring to vote
You can’t just show up empty-handed on Election Day. You’ll need some form of identification like a driver’s license, passport or even a college ID. But it’s important to know that what qualifies as voter identification varies from Missouri to Kansas.
In Missouri, here are the acceptable IDs for registered voters, according to the Secretary of State’s office:
- Identification issued by the state of Missouri, an agency of the state, or a local election authority of the state;
- Identification issued by the United States government or agency thereof;
- Identification issued by an institution of higher education, including a university, college, vocational and technical school, located within the state of Missouri; or
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter.
If you don’t have any of these ID forms, you can cast a provisional ballot. As long as your signature matches the one on your voter registration, your vote will still count.
In Kansas, acceptable forms of identification must include a photo, so a utility bill isn’t going to cut it. Here are the acceptable IDs for registered voters, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office:
- Driver’s license or ID card issued by Kansas or another state
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Military ID
- ID card issued by a Native American tribe
- Employee badge or ID issued by a government office
- Student ID card from an accredited postsecondary education institution in Kansas
- Concealed carry license issued by Kansas or another state
- Public assistance ID card issued by a government office
What to do and not to do
After you’ve waited in line and shown the election worker your ID, it’s time to head to a voting booth and cast your vote. You’ll either get a paper ballot, or in many counties these days, you can fill out your ballot on an electronic voting machine.
If you fill out a paper ballot, make sure to completely fill in the circle next to the candidate or issue your selecting. No checkmarks or X’s.
As you’re filling out your ballot, you might be filled with a sense of pride and want the social media world to know. But depending on what state you live in, it’s not always legal to take a picture in the voting booth.
In Missouri, you can’t share your ballot after it’s been marked — it’s actually a misdemeanor. So the Secretary of State strongly discourages taking a photo of yourself voting. Taking a picture inside or outside the polling place is fine though, as long as you’re not disrupting anyone else’s privacy.
Kansas, on the other hand, doesn’t have any laws preventing photos at polling places or in voting booths.
Regardless, once you exit your polling place and get your treasured “I Voted” sticker, make sure you share that selfie with FOX4 through the submission form at the bottom of this story!
Free rides to the polls
Don’t let a lack of transportation be the reason why you don’t vote this Tuesday. If you need a ride, several companies are offering free or discounted trips to polling places.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will provide a specialized route to help voters get to and from Arrowhead Stadium on Tuesday. The stadium will be a centralized polling site for Kansas City residents in Jackson County.
The route will begin at E. 12th and Charlotte streets and run every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. Riders will have to wear a mask to ride the bus.
Additionally, fares on all RideKC bus routes serving Kansas City, Johnson County, Wyandotte County and Independence will be free. Visit RideKC’s website to find route information to polling locations or to schedule a ride. You can also call 816-221-0660.
Ride sharing companies like Lyft and Uber also have Election Day deals.
With Uber, riders can get 50% off roundtrip rides to and from the polls (up to $7 each trip), or up to $14 for the two trips. Lyft is offering 50% off one ride up to $10 to any polling location or dropbox using the code 2020VOTE*.
And even electric scooters are getting in on the fun.
You can ride to the polls for free on an electric Bird scooter. The company is offering up to 30 minutes of free wheeling on Tuesday for anyone in the United States. Riders simply have to enter “VOTE2020” in the app.
With high voter turnout expected, election officials throughout the Kansas City region have plans in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Voting booths and lines will be spaced out to allow for social distancing, and poll workers in some counties might only allow a certain number of people inside at a time to prevent crowds.
If you live in a city or county that requires face masks in public, don’t forget your mask. Even if there isn’t a mandate where you live, some election boards still might require them inside polling locations.
Voters will also likely see increased cleaning and hand sanitizer available.
Send a selfie with your “I Voted” sticker, here
Please note each photo has to be approved by a member of the FOX4 team. We will share some of the photos on air throughout the day today.