Voting 101: A beginner’s guide to voting

Nathan Zoschke

The deadline to register to vote in the November election is quickly approaching.

Missourians have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to submit a voter registration form through mail or in person at any local elections board office or public library. Forms can be obtained through

Kansans have until Tuesday, Oct. 16, and may register online at

In order to register, one must be a U.S. citizen 18 or older on the date of an election and reside in the state in which they vote.

Incomplete registration forms, such as those lacking a valid signature, will be rejected.

Once one has registered, he or she will receive a voter information card in the mail within 7-10 days verifying registration.

The card will also list a voting location and instructions on how to vote, including necessary documentation.

Missouri voters can check their registration status by visiting

Kansas voters can visit

Sample ballots can be obtained through local elections board websites, such as the Kansas City Elections Board,

Absentee voters

If voters move within the same county, they are responsible for updating voter registration information with the local elections board.

If voters move to a new county or out of state, they must submit a new registration form.

Because the Kansas City portion of Jackson County has its own elections board, voters who move between Kansas City and other municipalities in Jackson County must submit a new registration form.

However, students from out of town may still vote in the jurisdiction in which they are registered by requesting an absentee ballot, which can be found at

Applications for a mail-in absentee ballot in Missouri must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31 to the local elections board office, and requests for in-person absentee voting must be submitted by Tuesday, Nov. 5.

In-person absentee voting in Missouri began on Sept. 25.

In Kansas, advance voting begins Oct. 17. Voters have until Nov. 2 to apply for advance voting ballots to be mailed, and they have until noon on Nov. 5 to cast in-person advance voting ballots at the county elections office.

The Kansas advance voting application can be found at

Popular vs. Electoral vote

State, local and U.S. Senate and House of Representative candidates are elected by a majority popular vote—the number of votes cast for each candidate.

The presidential election is determined by the Electoral College.

Each state has as many electoral votes as it does U.S. senators and representatives. Each state has two U.S. senators and at least one U.S. representative, with the number of representatives dependent upon the state’s population. In addition, the District of Columbia has three electoral votes.

A candidate must receive 270 of 538 electoral votes in order to win. If there is a tie, the president will be selected by state delegations in the House, and the vice president will be picked by the Senate.

The president has also carried the popular vote in every recent election except 2000, when then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College but came up short in the popular vote.


Voters may live in a different state or U.S. congressional district than they did in 2008 or 2010. This is because of redistricting based on population data from the 2010 U.S. Census.

Missouri was among 10 states to lose representation in U.S. House seats due to population growth rates below the national average. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) lost his seat due to redistricting.

Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II (D) saw his district, Mo. 5, expand to include sections of the Northland and rural areas extending east into central Missouri. However, it no longer includes Belton, Raymore or certain parts of Lee’s Summit.

In a bizarre redistricting stunt, Missouri Senate Districts 7 and 10 traded spots on the map.

Jolie Justus (D-10), hailing from Kansas City’s left-leaning urban core, in January will serve a conservative district northwest of St. Louis for the last two years of the term.

Missouri voters can find their district on the Secretary of State website,

Kansas voters can find their district at

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