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New ballots on Johnson County voting machine create confusion

Posted: 4:44 PM, Jul 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-27 19:16:42-04

OLATHE, Kan. — If you vote Republican in Johnson County, you might not see your preferred candidate for governor on the same page as the other candidates.

The race for the next Kansas governor is crowded with seven Republican candidates and five Democrats on the ballot for their respective party’s spot on the general election during the Aug. 7 primary.

Johnson County’s new voting machines won’t have trouble handling the Democrats up for election, but something may look off if you are a Republican voter.

Click here to see how new voting machines work

Each ballot screen only has six candidate slots, so one candidate in the Republican primary will appear on a second page that voters will have to scroll to see.

But there is a safeguard.

“The machine will not permit the voter to make a selection to go to the next race until they have viewed both pages,” said Ronnie Metsker with the Johnson County Election Commission.

Still, this has irked some early voters, including a 41 Action News viewer who had trouble finding Gov. Jeff Colyer on her ballot. 

Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said it’s because of the six-candidate limit per screen page. State law requires the names to be rotated to avoid favoring or punishing any candidate by relegating the candidate to the second page.

“All seven of the candidates will appear in all seven positions, in equal amount of times, throughout the county in that particular race,” Metsker said

Brian Holtz voted early Friday and relayed his experience with the new machine and its software.

“At first it did, then it reminded you there was another page and, if you didn’t look at that page and hit the next button, it tells you you didn’t look at the second page to see who else was there,” he said.

Election officials said the machine forces you to look at all candidates. Also, when you are finished voting, the machine asks voters to verify selections.

“You can go back, which I did, to see who else was on the second page, but it didn’t change my vote,” Holtz said. “But it gave you the opportunity.”

Early voting ends Aug. 6 in Johnson County.