Johnson County election officials explain ballot-box safety measures

Posted at 9:38 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-17 00:46:53-04

OLATHE, Kan. — After voters received their mail-in ballots “earlier than expected,” the Johnson County Election Office unlocked ballot return boxes Friday afternoon.

Initially, the boxes weren't set to open for ballot drop-offs until Saturday morning.

“We’re dispatching staff around the county to open the boxes now," the Johnson County Election Office tweeted Friday evening. "All eight ballot boxes will be open and available for voters to return their ballots tonight."

There are eight ballot drop boxes located throughout the county, including locations in front of county libraries and the Election Office in Olathe. Each ballot return box will be open 24/7 until 7 p.m. on Election Night, Nov. 3.

“We have teams that will be monitoring those drop boxes and bringing those voted ballots back in sealed transfer bags,” Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt said.

To keep ballots inside the box safe, there are cameras pointed at each location that and record activity in the area at all times. The boxes are bolted to the cement from inside the box and two keys are needed to unlock the box and collect the ballots.

A bipartisan team, comprised of one Democrat and one Republican, will collect the ballots several times throughout the day.

“There’s only two sets of keys to each ballot drop boxes and they are unique,” Schmidt said. “One will be with the team receiving them and the other is kept here in a locked storage room here at the Election Office.”

There are two ballot drop off boxes in Wyandotte County located in front of and down the road from the county's election cffice.

Commissioner Bruce Newby told 41 Action News the Kansas Secretary of State purchased the boxes for the county using federal CARES Act fund.

Newby said his office has ordered more boxes, but and timing of when they will arrive and possible locations remain up in the air.

“Each one of those ballot boxes will hold 1,500 ballots, so they will be checked first thing in the morning and close of business at the end of the day," he said. "We’ll do it more often depending on the volume of mail being deposited."

Voters can check the status of their mail-in ballots, find out when they are received by the election office and learn if they've be counted through the Kansas Secretary of State's office.