TOPEKA — Kansas voters will decide whether they want to alter the balance of power in the Legislature and replace two Republican congressmen in Tuesday’s primary election.
The GOP and the Democratic Party are picking their nominees for the U.S. Senate, congressional seats, the Kansas Senate, the Kansas House and hundreds of county offices.
Moderate Republicans are hoping to knock off conservative legislators in GOP contests, and U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp is facing a tough challenge from Roger Marshall, a Great Bend obstetrician, in the big 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas.
What to know about the election:
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is seeking a second, six-year term and is expected to win easily over a largely unknown opponent, D.J. Smith, of Osawatomie, in the GOP primary.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder also is expected to score a big victory over his Republican primary opponent, retired Army officer Greg Goode, of Louisburg, in the Kansas City-area 3rd District.
The biggest race is Huelskamp’s contest against Marshall. The incumbent is a tea party favorite who first won the seat in 2010, but his conflicts with GOP leaders turned agriculture and business groups against him.
More than two dozen Republican legislators, most of them conservative allies of GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, face primary challengers. Three House Democrats also do, in relatively safe Democratic districts.
Riley County commissioner Robert Boyd, the Republican incumbent for District 2, will be challenged by Marvin Rodriguez.
In Pottawatomie County, County Sheriff Greg Riat faces Daniel Costlow, who is the current Onaga/Havensville police chief. In the county commission, incumbent Pat Weixelman will be challenged by Dana Wethington for District 2 and District 3 commissioner Stan Hartwich is hoping to hold off two challengers: Travis Altenhofen and Alvin Matzke.
For the 64th District of the Kansas House, Republican Susie Swanson of Clay Center will be contested by Kathy Martin, also of Clay Center.
All polling places across the state must open at 7 a.m., though local election officials have the authority to allow voting to begin at 6 a.m.
Polling closes at 7 p.m. local time. Four counties on the state’s border with Colorado Greeley, Hamilton, Sherman and Wallace are on Mountain time, an hour earlier than the rest of the state.
A guide for local polling places and voting information can be found here.
WHO CAN VOTE
Kansas recognizes only three political parties, Republican, Democratic and Libertarian. Libertarians do not appear on the primary ballot because they choose their candidates at a state convention.
People who affiliate with one party when they register to vote can’t vote in another party’s primary. But voters who register as unaffiliated can declare an affiliation at the polls and vote in a Republican or Democratic primary.
Also, under a 2011 state law, voters must show a photo ID at the polls.
PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP
Election officials will be required to count potentially thousands of votes in legislative and local races even though the people casting them didn’t comply with a 2013 state law requiring them to document their U.S. citizenship when registering.
A federal judge ruled in May that people who registered at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of their citizenship still had the right to cast ballots in federal races under federal law.
The federal judge’s ruling prompted Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who has championed the proof-of-citizenship law, to direct county election officials to set their ballots aside for later review and count only their votes in federal races.
But the American Civil Liberties Union filed a state-court lawsuit challenging Kobach’s rule, and a Shawnee County District Court judge ruled Friday that all votes on such ballots must be counted. Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, about 17,600 people registered at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship.
Kansas has about 1.7 million registered voters, and turnout in primaries in presidential-election years has averaged about 28 percent since 1996.
But turnout has been lower in more recent years, and was 23 percent in 2012.
A 28 percent turnout would bring about 480,000 voters to the polls.