Wyandotte, Johnson counties share security process of counting votes on Election Night

Election Safety.jpg
Posted at 11:14 PM, Oct 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 12:41:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — With elections around the corner, KSHB 41 News spoke with election officials in Kansas about the process of counting ballots.

John David Smith, a 20-year voter, says he has trusted and believes in the election process.

“If you don’t vote, you ain't got nothing to say," Smith said. "They are counted more than once by hand, and if you can't live with that, then you better just stay home.”   

Ahead of the election, Wyandotte and Johnson county election officials want people to know their vote is safe.

Michael Abbott, the election commissioner for Wyandotte County, says his office tries to get results out 30 minutes after polls close at seven.

“We usually try to get the first results out by 7:30, and that’s all of early voting, and any ballot that we got back by mail," he said. "Then as the polling locations start bringing back the ballots, we will start feeding those into the machines and then we still start feeding the results in."

Abbot said that after voting is completed across polling locations in Wyandotte, his team waits for the ballots to come back to the election office.

“They come back in sealed storage bags and we track those seals in the morning," he said. "They break them, they verify them, they seal them. That night before they come back to our office, we verify those seals to make sure there has been not tampering with them."

Abbott said the machine in which ballots are fed is called an 850 scanner.

“(It's) an optical digital scanner and we can't start tabulating until 7 o'clock election night,” Abbott said. “But those machines will start feeding those ballots and that machine will take a copier and physical image of that ballot and start counting.”

Fred Sherman, election commissioner for Johnson County, said the county uses a voter verified paper audit trail.

“That means everyone who casts their ballot or casts their vote does so on a paper ballot," he said.

Sherman said the paper ballots are then inserted into a centralized tabulator and each voter casts that ballot into that scanning device.

“It takes a digital image of that ballot on both sides, but it also tabulates the content races on that ballot thats being casted," he said.

Once votes are counted, they are secured on USB encrypted device, Sherman said.

“Once the polls have closed on Election Day, we got through a shutdown process at each polling site, and then seal that USB drive into that transfer bag that has a security seal applied to it to make sure the chain of custody is accounted for," Sherman said.