Kansas Governor Vetoes Bill Shortening Mail-in Ballot Return Window

UPDATE: On Wednesday, April 26, the Kansas Senate failed to override Gov. Kelly’s veto, meaning the bill will not go into effect.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, April 19, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) vetoed Senate Bill 209, a bill that would have shortened the deadline to return mail-in ballots. S.B. 209 would have required mail-in ballots to be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Under current law, ballots can arrive up to three days after Election Day and still be counted. This three-day grace period was enacted by the Kansas Legislature in 2017 with bipartisan, near unanimous approval

In her veto message, Kelly wrote that the bill would likely result in the disenfranchisement of rural Kansas. “That is unacceptable. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier – not harder – for Kansans to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

With Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Republican lawmakers could override Kelly’s veto, though they have struggled to do so in the past.

While she vetoed S.B. 209, Kelly has shown a willingness to sign other election legislation. On April 14, she signed the House Substitute for Senate Bill 208. As originally introduced, S.B. 208 would have restricted the number of drop boxes to just one per county and later was amended to ban drop boxes in the state entirely. However, S.B. 208 was amended again removing drop box provisions and instead tackles ethics and campaign finance rules.

Read S.B. 209 here.

Track the status of S.B. 209 here.