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Kansas Secretary of State answers questions on how state's election system works

Scott Schwab, Kansas SOS
Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 12:36:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As rumors continue to circulate regarding the integrity of elections across the country, the Kansas Secretary of State wants voters to have the same information he does about how elections work in Kansas.

Scott Schwab, a Republican, was first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2002.

He spent four years as Chairman of the House Elections Committee.

Now, Schwab serves as the Kansas SOS.

Advance voting

Some skeptics have suggested, without evidence, that if a person votes in advance it could increase the risk of fraud or of their vote not being counted.

But, Schwab, and other election officials encourage it.

"Go for it, Schwab said. "I see no harm."

Schwab said the option of being able to vote early is helpful for voters who may not be in town on Election Day.

While Schwab said there's no added risk of fraud when it comes to advance voting, he did point out one area of concern.

"You end the campaign sooner, before you know the candidates as good as we should," Schwab said.

Are the machines accurate?

When it comes to tabulating ballots in Kansas, poll workers use a multi-layered process to ensure the accuracy of the votes.

"Every ballot that's counted is made out of paper. So, when you have the touchscreens, there's a stick in the back and it's recording vote counts," Schwab said. "That's what they put in our computer to report to our website or the county website, just so you have an idea of the results that night. The ballot gets scanned and then gets put in the tabulator. That sheet of paper is what's audited and counted.

Each county then performs a logic and accuracy test.

"Every machine prints a voter verified paper ballot that you can look at to make sure the machine counted the vote the way they're supposed to, "Schwab said. "And then every county does a post election audit."

Making sure the ballots match the poll book

Once the ballots are tabulated, poll workers reconcile the number of ballots with the amount of people who sign the pollbooks.

"It's accounting," Schwab said. "We've got the number of people who signed the pollbook and we've got ballots and if they don't zero out, they don't go home."

This does happen on occasion; Schwab said it's usually due to a clerical oversight.

"We had one more bag in the counting room, or hey, we've got this one more batch of mail ballots that we need to make sure we process tonight."

The layered process is created to catch these type of clerical errors.

Mail-in voting

When it comes to mail-in a ballot, Schwab said the system works well.

But, there are occasions when a ballot could get tossed out.

Unlike the instances where poll workers make a clerical mistake, voters are usually responsible in this instance.

One example is if a person votes in the wrong state.

"The wrong county, someone didn't show their ID, okay they signed the pollbook, but their ballot doesn't count because they didn't follow the rules," Schwab said.

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