With many unknowns still ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lyon County Election Office is "planning for the worst and hoping for the best case scenario" ahead of the upcoming Aug. 4 primary.
Lyon County Clerk and Election Officer Tammy Vopat said the office has proactively mailed out advanced ballot applications to registered voters, an option that has always been available and is not mandatory this year.
"The application for the advanced ballot by mail is just another option for our voters," she said. "We wanted to send it to each voter and we also included a postage paid return envelope for them to use if they choose to apply for a mail ballot."
Vopat said voters can check the status of their mail ballot applications by going online to myvoteinfo.voteks.org/voterview. Voters must also apply for a new mail ballot each election, should they choose to do so.
They can also find a copy of the mail ballot application online at lyoncounty.org/index/government/elected-offices/elections.
Vopat stressed that the applications were not mandatory and did not mean that polling places would be closed.
"We just want people to know they have that option if they choose to vote by mail rather than going to their polling places," she said. "Our polling places will be open as usual. We will have Saturday voting. We will have early voting for two weeks prior to the election. ... I just want to make sure that everybody knows that this is not required and yes, all of the polling places will be open on election day."
For those still wishing to vote in-person, Vopat said additional protection measures are being put in place amid the pandemic. She said Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab had informed the counties that $2.6 million in CARES Act funding would be distributed around the state for that purpose.
"At this point in time, we have in our office and in our county, have already allowed for [personal protective equipment]," Vopat said. "We've purchased masks and gloves, hand sanitizer. Related to cleaning equipment, we will have spray bottles full of isopropyl alcohol and after each voter votes the machines will be cleaned. After each voter votes, the poll book and stylus will be cleaned."
Vopat said the PPE purchased by the county, as well as the postage on the advanced ballot applications, will be eligible for reimbursement under the funding measure.
"We are working to make sure that we have everything we need in place for the election on election, and prior to it for advance voting and Saturday voting," she said. "We are taking all of the safety precautions and following the guidelines that are set out to keep everyone safe."
Vopat said there are a few important dates to remember ahead of the coming election cycle, too.
The final day to file as a candidate or to change your party affiliation is June 1.
Applications for advanced ballot by mail must be back in the Election Office by July 28.
The primary election will be held Aug. 4.