Johnson County election board to accept about 10,000 provisional ballots

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Posted at 11:17 AM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 12:17:25-05

OLATHE, Kan. — About 10,000 more ballots will now count toward the final election results in Johnson County, Kansas.

On Wednesday morning, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners serving as the Board of County Canvassers voted to fully accept 9,764 provisional ballots, reject 2,242 provisional ballots and partially accept 1,267 provisional ballots.

Canvassing an election is the process of confirming all valid ballots are counted.

The election office will now tabulate the appropriate provisional ballots, and the Board of County Canvassers will approve and certify final election results during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

The final results could impact several close races in the county. One vote currently separates the race between Linda Featherston and Rashard Young for state representative in the 16th District.

Voters fill out a provisional ballot for a variety of reasons: if poll workers can’t find them in the rolls of registered voters; if they vote at the wrong polling place; if they requested a mail-in ballot, but then decided to fill one out in person; if they need a replacement mail-in ballot; and more.

“The provisional ballots are the voter safety net," Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt said. "It allows us to research anything that was questionable when they were voting in person. Our poll workers, if they had a question and weren’t certain, they’re always told to allow the voter to vote a provisional ballot and that gets it back here in our hands where full-time staff have access to the full state system where we can research and solve those problems.”

To partially accept a provisional ballot means a person voted at the wrong polling place. The office will count that person’s votes in national, state and countywide races, but not for local races because they voted in a precinct where they do not live.

Schmidt told the Board of County Canvassers this election was “historic” in terms of voter turnout. She called the election a “success” and credited a smooth Election Day to people who voted early.

In Johnson County, 164,982 people requested a mail-in ballot. Among those, 151,127 returned their ballot, roughly 92%. Schmidt said 34% of all mail-in ballots in Kansas came from Johnson County.

Also, 116,355 people voted advance in-person, which resulted in only two of the county’s 70-plus polling places having more than 1,000 voters on Election Day.

Schmidt said 73 mail-in ballots were postmarked on Election Day but did not arrive at the election office by the following Friday, the deadline to count for the general election.

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