Local election offices keep guard over early ballots

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Casting your absentee ballot may take a load off of your mind, but workers in election offices across Kansas City will be worrying about the security of those ballots until election day is done.

"Every ballot box that has ballots in it is locked under padlock and then secured into a vault," said Dave Reinhart, the Republican Director of the Clay County Election Board. 

Familiar beeps go off in the office where dozens are lined up to cast their absentee ballot. Every employee has a key card to every door behind the scenes.

"There are like four layers of security before you get to our data center," Reinhart said. And if that fails, "Smile, you're on candid camera," he grinned.

All of this goes on just to protect democracy where an average of 300 absentee ballots are cast daily before the election. More than 6,000 have voted so far.

"Everyone's vote is important," Reinhart said.

Bruce Newby, the Wyandotte County Election Commissioner, agreed.

"It is the civic responsibility of making sure that the constitutional right to vote is protected," he said, adding that 12,000 people have already taken part in advanced voting in person. More than 8,000 voters mailed their ballot in.

Several layers protect each of those votes in Wyandotte County, starting at check-in.

Every voter's photo ID must match the voter's computer database. Even the layout of the office helps.

"It is enough of a maze, it is a confusing place if you don't know the building, and can easily get lost," he said.

Besides the building's tricky design to keep people from a quick in-and-out, a police station is only a few blocks away. Officers can respond in three minutes.

A few years ago, they rushed to the election office when someone broke in.

"I have two security guards on right now," Newby said. "But it isn't all the responsibility of the security guard."

Everyone in election offices like these shares the responsibility of keeping the ballots safe.

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