Republicans have long enjoyed a voter registration advantage in Kansas; a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t carried the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and former President Donald Trump carried it by big margins in 2016 and 2020. Yet the electorate also can have a sizeable number of independent and moderate GOP voters, and voters in August decisively rejected a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would have allowed the GOP-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. That scrambled the national conversation on the issue.
Democrats hoped that the energy from the August vote would linger and help Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, while Republicans saw high inflation and worries about the economy helping Kelly’s GOP challenger, Derek Schmidt, the state’s three-term attorney general and Republican candidates down the ballot. Kelly won her first term in 2018 by 5 percentage points over two-term Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known nationally for advocating stricter immigration and election laws.
Kobach was trying for a comeback in the attorney general’s race after losing to Kelly in 2018 and losing a U.S. Senate primary in 2020. His Democratic opponent was Chris Mann, a former police officer and local prosecutor making his first run for elective office.
A Democrat hasn’t won a U.S. Senate race in Kansas since 1932, and Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran won his 2016 race for reelection by almost 30 points. His Democratic opponent is former Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland.
Three of the state’s four U.S. House seats were considered relatively safe for their Republican incumbents under new district lines drawn this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature to balance out their populations. The lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, Sharice Davids, has a rematch of her Kansas City-area race in 2020 with Republican Amanda Adkins, a former health care IT company executive. Davids won the 2020 race by 10 percentage points, but redistricting divided Kansas City, Kansas, between two districts and cost Davids portions where she performed best while bringing in the bulk of three heavily Republican counties on the edge of the metro area.
In the wake of the abortion vote, legal groups and abortion rights advocates were worried about attempts to oust justices on the Kansas Supreme Court, which in 2019 ruled that the state constitution protects abortion rights. Six of the seven justices, including three Kelly appointees, face a yes-or-no vote on whether they remain on the court for another six years.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
Polls close at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET). Four counties in the state are in Mountain Time Zone (9 p.m. ET).
HOW KANSAS VOTES
Kansas voters can cast ballots now through Nov. 8 to decide on the next governor and other statewide offices, as well as congressional representatives to send to Washington, D.C., and state representatives to serve in Topeka. Voters in Sedgwick County and some others also will choose county commissioners.
AP will tabulate and declare winners in more than 175 contested elections in Kansas, including governor, Senate, statewide races and two ballot issues. In the 2020 general election, AP first reported results around 9:40 p.m. Eastern Time and had 100% of results at 4:40 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
Kansas does not require automatic recounts.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Schmidt’s effort to unseat Kelly in the governor’s race is complicated by the independent candidacy of state Sen. Dennis Pyle, formerly Republican, one of the Legislature’s most conservative members. Republicans fear he could take votes from Schmidt on the right.
Voters also are considering a proposed amendment to the state constitution to make it easier for the Republican-controlled Legislature to overturn state agencies’ rules.
Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?
A: Kansas made international news in the wake of the abortion vote.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: High number of mail-in ballots.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: Expected to be very high in the wake of Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. As of September, there were 1,957,576 registered voters in Kansas. Advanced voting is high, and turnout on Election Day is expected to be strong.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: Any candidate may request a recount. If the margin between candidates is less than or equal to 0.5%, the state covers the costs. In all other instances, candidates are responsible for costs associated with the recount. Costs paid by the candidate are refunded if the recount changes the election outcome. For a recount in a single county, that request must be made by 5 p.m. on the day following the county canvass. For recounts in multiple counties, the request must be made no later than 5 p.m. on the second Friday following the election. The deadline for completion is the fifth day after the request. Partial recounts can also be requested.
READ UP ON THE RACES
More coverage of the campaigns:
Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections. Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections