Kansas, Missouri, election worker security takes center stage as general election draws near

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Oct 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 12:22:47-04

OLATHE, Kan. — The safety of election workers remains a big concern across the country as many states have increased security around drop boxes and various polling locations.

Secretary’s of State report they’ve received various threats ever since 2020, including in the Kansas City area.

To reassure a public that includes some skeptical voters, Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman opened up its doors over the summer to show voters how the process works.

“We’re accountable and account for every voter and we account for every ballot,” Sherman told KSHB 41 I-Team reporter Jessica McMaster. “We know how many voters check in and how many ballots are cast and those are equal.”

On a state level, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab says the ballot tabulation process contains several layers, with every county in charge of logic and accuracy testing.

“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. “Every county does a post-election audit.”

In addition to ensuring the voting count is accurate, Schwab says he works with local officials to also make sure election workers are kept safe, a collaboration that’s taken an added level of importance since 2020.

“The problem is folks can’t accept their issue or person lost,” Schwab says. “You don’t win every political race.”

Many Americans saw that first hand as violence erupted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“My concern is the workers,” Schwab said. “They do this as a civic duty. Nobody goes to school to major in elections. They do this as volunteers.”

Even if the workers might get a little bit of a stipend or a payment, Schwab says they shouldn’t face threats, harassment or bullying for doing it.

Election workers’ efforts are particularly important on nights like next Tuesday, Nov. 8. Schwab says every ballot is accounted for and compared to the poll books. If the two don’t match, election workers don’t go home.