Local election office gears up for Nov. 8 general election
by Mary Rupert
As the general election Nov. 8 nears, Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said he hasn’t yet seen the kind of surge in voter registration here that one might expect preceding an election.
“My colleagues in other counties are seeing an uptick; we have yet to see that here,” Newby said today. “Things are abnormally quiet.”
It’s unusual as it is a presidential election year. There are other contests on this year’s ballot, including U.S. senators, U.S. representative, state senators, state representatives, a constitutional amendment concerning hunting and fishing, and a ballot question for a bond issue for the Kansas City, Kan., Public School district.
There were 75,206 registered voters in Wyandotte County as of July 18, the last time he ran a report on it, Newby said. The figure hasn’t changed very much from 2008 or 2012, he added.
Voter registration closes in mid-October, 21 days before the election.
“Back in 2008, when the rest of the nation supposedly had a record turnout, Wyandotte County turned out with 64 percent,” he said.
To him, that means 36 percent of the eligible voters in the county did not vote.
“It’s important that those people do,” he said. “There is no way their voice can be heard if they don’t vote.”
It’s also important to have the patience to vote the entire ballot and not just for the candidates at the top of the ballot, he believes, as those other contests also are important.
Three voting options this year
The Wyandotte County Election office will be providing three options for voting in the Nov. 8 general election, Newby said.
Newby sent out a letter to active registered voters in Wyandotte County this week who have not already applied for a mail ballot. It has information about three voting options: voting early by mail, advance voting at three locations starting Oct. 25, and voting on election day.
Newby said the letter sent to Wyandotte County registered voters this week also has an application for an advance mail-in ballot on the back of the letter. Ballot applications also are available from the election office, 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan., and from the websites, wycokck.org/election and wycovotes.org.
In case there is a high turnout at the election, this is the option with no lines and no waiting. Newby said he is trying to encourage people to vote by mail. Those who want to vote by mail may return the ballot application to the election office and a ballot will be mailed to them, he said. The election office will begin mailing advance ballots on Oct. 19, he said.
If there is a high turnout at the general election, there is a chance of lines at the ballots. Newby said he does not have as many polling places in 2016 as he had in 2008, as a Department of Justice compliance audit resulted in closing about half of the polling places because of ADA compliance on accessibility. Some sites had ramps that were declared too steep, he added.
Three sites for advance voting
Advance voting starts Oct. 25 in Wyandotte County at three locations, Newby said.
The advance voting sites are at the election office, 850 State Ave.; the UG Transit Center meeting room, 849 B N. 47th St., Kansas City, Kan.; and the Eisenhower Recreation Center, 2901 N. 72nd St., Kansas City, Kan.
At the election office at 850 State, advance voting hours will be on two Saturdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., he said. That office also is open for advance voting Tuesday, Oct. 25 through Friday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Advance voting is closed on Sundays. On Monday, Nov. 7, advance voting will be open from 8 a.m. to noon at 850 State Ave.
At the UG Transit Center and Eisenhower Recreation Center, advance voting will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 5. Advance voting also will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, to Friday, Nov. 4. These sites will be closed on Sunday, and also closed on Monday, Nov. 7.
Those who vote in advance in person at the satellite locations can vote only on touch screens, not by paper ballot, he said. Paper ballots in advance are available at 850 State Ave.
Newby said voters at the polls on Election Day will have the option of voting on a paper ballot or using a touch screen, he said. There are a limited number of touch screens available, he said, so there could be some lines for those using them on Nov. 8.
A postcard will go out to voters about two weeks before the election with information about advance voting, hours and polling places, he said.
Voting on Election Day
Polls on Election Day, Nov. 8, will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at designated polling places. There is only one correct polling place a voter can go to on Election Day, he said.
Voters who go to the wrong polling place on Nov. 8 will be redirected to the correct polling location on Election Day, he said. He added there will not be a correct ballot at the wrong polling place for them, as they may live outside the area for a state representative contest on that ballot. There are 113 different ballots, and all those ballots cannot be placed at each polling place, and that number of ballots also cannot be placed at the advance voting sites.
When people vote at the wrong polling place, their ballots may be provisional, and the vote for state representative may not count if they are at the wrong polling place. To check a polling place, visit myvoteinfo.voteks.org, and enter name and date of birth for the correct voting location.
The phone number for the Wyandotte County Election Office is 913-573-8500 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motor-voters expected to be able to vote in all contests on ballot
As local election officials gear up for the Nov. 8 general election, there are some late changes expected from a federal court case involving voters who registered at motor vehicle offices.
According to published news reports, an agreement was reached between the Kansas secretary of state and the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal case involving the motor-voter registrations. Published reports stated that the agreement would allow the secretary of state to avoid a contempt hearing. Previously, Kansas had said voters who didn’t show proof of citizenship would be allowed to vote only for federal offices and not in state contests. An agreement reached this week reportedly would allow the more than 19,000 voters statewide in this motor-voter group to vote in all contests on the ballot.
According to published reports, there will be a deadline in early October to send notices to affected voters that they now can vote in all contests in the general election. Newby said today that he had not yet received information from the secretary of state’s office about instructions on what to do regarding these voters. He is waiting for instructions before acting on it, he said.