TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas Democrats have scrapped plans for polling sites for their May 2 presidential primary and are having the election entirely with mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
State Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt said Monday that polling sites are "going to be too risky” and some were at public schools and community colleges that have closed. The party on Monday began mailing ballots to almost 390,000 people registered as Democrats as of early March. The figure could top 400,000.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Kansas has more than tripled in less than than week, to 319 reported by the state health department, with seven COVID-19-related deaths reported by state and local officials.
Confirmed cases have spread from the state's portion of the Kansas City area to 35 of its 105 counties. While most infected people recover and many have mild or moderate symptoms, the virus can cause serious illnesses or death, particularly in older adults or people with underlying health issues.
Hiatt said she's hoping the switch to an entirely mail-ballot election won't hurt turnout and believes participation will be driven more by whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to challenge former Vice President Joe Biden.