Archive for Tuesday, May 12, 2009

State to roll out simple online option for registering to vote, changing address

May 12, 2009

Voter registration in Kansas soon will only require a computer and Internet connection.

The state plans to make an announcement possibly in two weeks about the new option for voters to change their address or register for the first time, said Stephanie Meyer, a spokeswoman for Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh.

“As technology changes, we want to evolve with that. We want to make registering to vote as easy as possible and as convenient as possible,” Meyer said.

The new online option will allow anyone with a valid Kansas driver’s license to register to vote or make an address change. It’s part of a partnership the secretary of state’s office has with the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Currently, state residents who are eligible to vote can fill out voter registration forms when they conduct business through a Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles office. The voter registration process at the DMV became electronic last year, Meyer said, which prompted election officials to look more extensively at online registration.

Arizona and Washington operate similar systems.

During their annual meeting last week, county election officials learned of the new option.

“I think it’s one other way to increase accessibility to elections,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said.

He said the new process should not present major challenges to guard against registration fraud because election officials will still need to verify the registrations the same way as if someone registered in person and filled out a paper form at the clerk’s office.

State election officials are still in the final testing stages of the new online option.

“Security really is the most paramount issue in all of this,” Meyer said. “We want to be sure we’ve got everything working and completely secure.”

She said the online voter registration site — when it becomes available — will be accessible from the secretary of state’s Web site.

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