Monday the Saline County Canvassing Board, consisting of Saline County Commissioners, voted to not count the votes cast by 143 Saline County residents who had not registered to vote by the October 13th deadline.
County Clerk Jamie Doss said she instructs all her election workers “not to deny anyone the right to vote”. If the individual’s information does not show up in the computer system or the on-site poll books, the individual is allowed to vote provisionally, on a paper ballot. Each provisional ballot is sealed in an envelope; these ballots are not included in the count immediately following the close of the polls on election day. Later, the Clerk’s staff sort the envelopes by types of concern; the Clerk then makes recommendations to the canvassing board. Based on their decision, some of the provisional ballots will be counted while others will not.
Doss said a majority of other County Clerks across Kansas have the same policy of “not denying anyone the right to vote”. Those voting provisionally are given a receipt outlining what steps must be taken to cure the problem and for their vote to count. The Canvassing Board meeting is open to the public.
All votes reflected the consensus of the four canvassing board members; Commission Attorney Mike Montoya attended the canvass as well.
In the same vein, the canvassing board denied the counting of:
- 10 ballots from individuals who were registered to vote in another county. In one case, Doss knew the individual worked in Saline County; others speculated some college students may have voted locally but were registered “back home” in another county.
- 3 ballots were cast by voters who had moved recently. State statute allows a voter to cast a vote at a prior residence within a certain timeframe prior to the election. In these three cases, that window had closed.
Voters were given three options to vote:
- by mail with advance voting
- at the County Clerk’s office two weeks prior to the election
- at the polls on election day
The canvassing board accepted the Clerk’s recommendation to count 231 provisional ballots, cast at the polls, by individuals who had also requested an advance ballot by mail; in none of these cases had the mail-in ballot been returned to the clerk’s office. Doss said some of these provisional ballots were cast by individuals who said they did not receive their advance mail-in ballots.
The canvassing board concurred with the Clerk’s recommendation to deny the counting of a second ballot cast by two individuals. These individuals had received a mail-in ballot and showed up at the polls. Since the guiding principle is “one person, one vote”, only one ballot from each individual will be counted.
Those receiving an advance mail-in ballot are required to sign the outside of the ballot. Seven individuals failed to do so. Doss said that her staff tried to contact all seven individuals. Two voters returned to the Clerk’s Office and signed their ballot; their ballots will count. For the remaining five, whose ballots remain unsigned, those ballots will remain uncounted.
Doss recommended, and the canvassing board agreed, to count the ballots of:
- 292 voters who moved within Saline County and voted at a poll that had the same races on the ballot. County Chairman Robert Viderickson questioned if counting these votes was “counterproductive to the system”. Doss replied perhaps some individuals didn’t have time to get to the correct polling place before polls closed.
- 26 voters had a name change. They completed a new voter’s registration card and showed proper identification; these votes will be counted.
- 33 voters went to the correct place, but due to clerical errors with the Clerk’s Office, they weren’t in the poll books correctly. They voted provisionally and the ballots will be counted. There was one additional clerical error where two individuals had very similar names and dates of birth; closer investigation determined they were two different individuals and the one provisional ballot will be counted.
- 2 signatures did not match; when asked, Doss said she currently makes decisions about whether the signatures match herself and by asking other staff. She hopes to purchase a scanner for the next election.
Nine individuals failed to provide an approved form of identification when they voted. Two returned to the Clerk’s Office after the election with proper identification; the canvassing board agreed to count their ballots. For the remaining seven, who did not provide identification, their ballots will not be counted
Twenty-five individuals went to the incorrect polling station. These individuals declined to go to the correct polling locations and voted provisionally. The Canvassing Board agreed that only the races that appeared on the correct precinct’s ballot for the individual as well as the ballot they voted would be counted. Races for US President, US Senate and US House, as well as many of the questions regarding retention of judges, local elected officials and the rebuilding of the jail were universal to all Saline County ballots. However, races for the State House districts, some county commission districts, as well as trustees and treasurers of townships differed.
Among other issues addressed by the canvassing board:
- 1 voter returned their ballot after the polls were closed and it was not postmarked on November 3; that ballot will not be counted.
- 1 voter cast a mail-in ballot and then died. In accordance with guidance from the State of Kansas, Commissioner Mike White moved that the vote will not be counted. Doss said her office staff process obituaries daily.
- 1 voter brought their mail-in ballot to their polling place, perhaps hoping to exchange the ballot for being able to vote on the electronic voting machines. That voter was given the option of voting provisionally (on a paper ballot) or submitting their mail-in ballot. The individual left and threw the ballot away. An election worker found the ballot and sealed it in a secure envelope. Doss said the voter’s intention was not to cast that mail-in ballot; the canvassing board agreed; that ballot will not be counted. (It is unknown if the ballot itself is marked.)
- In 2 cases, voters were given the incorrect ballot at the polls (in several locations, multiple precincts vote at one polling place). The canvassing board reluctantly allowed partial count of these ballots. Commissioner Jim Weese pointedly asked Doss what the voter had done wrong. She replied the voter had done nothing wrong. Her recommendation was guided by the provision that an individual can only vote where they reside. Commissioners agreed they hated to see this happen but agreed to partially count these ballots.
Doss reported that a post audit was completed on Friday, November 6 using processes outlined by the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. For two races, all of the ballots cast by mail, early and at the polling places had to be counted by hand.
The Canvassing Board recessed, to give the Clerk’s staff time to process the ballots approved for counting. The Canvassing Board will reconvene tomorrow, following the conclusion of the Saline County Commission Meeting, scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM in the City County Building, at 300 W Ash, room 107. This meeting is always open to the public. A recap of the canvassing board will be included in a future set of Commission minutes.
County Commission Monte Shadwick was not present for the Canvassing Board. County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes said county commissioners could appoint someone else to take their place on the canvassing board (with possible additional refinements). At the close of Monday’s canvassing board, it was unclear if Shadwick could or would serve on Tuesday’s reconvened canvassing board.