Dickinson County Clerk/Election Officer Barb Jones visited with county commissioners Thursday about advance voting and other election procedures for the 2020 General Election.
The election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 3 — less than a month away.
Voter registration for people who want to vote in the election closes on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Advance voting —either in person or by mail — starts Oct. 14.
Because of concerns regarding the coronavirus and in an attempt to protect people who might not want to venture out to vote in person, Jones said her office already has sent ballot requests out to all registered voters so people can request a ballot be mailed to them — if they desire.
“If they want to vote by mail they can return it (the form to request an advance ballot). If they don’t want to vote by mail they don’t have to return it. They can either go the polls or they can come to our office and advance vote when advance voting starts on Oct. 14,” Jones said.
There were 13,181 registered voters in Dickinson County as of Tuesday, Sept. 29, Jones said. So far, her office has received 1,356 requests for ballots to be mailed. Ballots will not be mailed out until Oct. 14.
One voter, one ballot
When advance voting requests are received in the clerk/election office the information on the form is compared to the voter registration information on file.
“We check the driver’s license number because it’s a required field on that form,” Jones said. The staff also compares signatures and checks to make sure all information is correct.
No one will receive more than one ballot even if they sent in multiple ballot requests.
“We go into our system and it shows they are already flagged to get a ballot. You can only get one ballot,” Jones said.
Jones said the voter’s drivers license number must be included on the advance ballot request before her office can process the form. She has already returned a number of requests to voters who did not include that information.
Advance voting in person
While advance ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 14 to those who have already made a request, people who want to advance vote in person before election day may do so beginning Wednesday, Oct. 14 in the clerk’s office at the courthouse, located at 109 E First Street from 8 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
On Saturday, Oct. 31, the clerk’s office will be open for walk-in voting from 9 a.m. to noon, Jones said.
Things to know
Jones answered several questions that have been posed:
• How do poll workers know if an advance ballot has already been sent to a voter?
Workers have an alphabetical listing of voters and if it says “advance” that tells the board workers that the voter has already been sent a ballot “or they walked into our office and voted so they would not vote again at the polls,” Jones said.
Poll workers are trained before each election. They receive material from the secretary of state office that includes statutes and procedures and Jones instructs them on how to handle provisional ballots and other situations. The training session lasts approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
• What if a voter tells poll workers they never received an advance ballot in the mail?
The voter is asked to fill out a provisional ballot. The voter fills out a new voter registration car, then casts their ballot. That ballot is placed in an envelope, separated from others and comes back to the clerk’s office.
If the original mailed ballot is never returned, the provisional ballot will be counted, Jones said. However, if the original mailed ballot is returned to the clerk’s office the mailed ballot will be counted — not the provisional.
• What is the counting board?
The counting board is a group of people who come into the clerk’s office at the courthouse about 1 p.m. on Election Day. They open mailed in ballots and separate them from the envelopes, then check to see if there are any write-in names and tally those names in the books.
“No ballots are run through the counting machine until 7 p.m. (when polls close),” Jones said.
The counting board comes in early before polls start coming in to avoid a backlog “especially this year with all the ballots we’re going to be sending out,” Jones said.
Once the polls start coming in, ballots are run through the counting machine, then they are brought to the counting board to tally any write-ins, she said.
• Who is in charge of each polling place?
Each poll has a supervising judge, a judge and a clerk. The supervising judge drives to the courthouse to pick up the ballots and election supplies then transports them back after polls close. Everyone gets paid for working election day and attending the training. The supervising judge is paid mileage and $2 extra, Jones said. “Usually it’s the same supervising judge each time.”
• Will there be special COVID procedures in place?
Each polling place will receive masks, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and gloves and will have a Plexiglass partition to separate poll workers from the voters. Also, poll workers are to wipe down the table or booths after each voter. Pens also will be handed out to each voter to take with them, Jones said.
• What is the last day to mail a ballot?
If the ballot is postmarked on Election Day, Nov. 3, it will be counted as long as it is received by the Friday following the election (Nov. 6).
• What is the canvass?
County commissioners will canvass the ballots on Friday, Nov. 13. Jones will present the reports from Election Night, the commission will examine that information, write-in totals and decide as a board whether to count provisional ballots based on Kansas law which states which ballots can and cannot be counted.
After it’s determined which ballots will be counted, they are run through the counting machine and the provisional ballot total is added to the election night total for a grand total.
• How long are ballots kept?
Kansas law requires they be kept 22 months, but Jones said it’s “easier to keep them for two years.” Ballots cast in November will be kept until November 2022.
Anyone wanting more information about voting in Dickinson County is asked to call the county clerk’s office at (785) 263-3774.
Contact Kathy Hageman at firstname.lastname@example.org.