Official election results show high turnout of Wyandotte County voters

Final official election results are now in, and they show that Wyandotte County voters turned out in force for the general election Nov. 3.

Wyandotte County election results became official on Monday after the Board of Canvassers reviewed provisional ballots here. No election outcomes changed as a result, according to Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.

Turnout was about 62 percent of the total registered voters here and 69.5 percent of the active registered voters, Newby said.

“I think it’s doggone good,” he added.

The turnout this year approached the turnout in 2008, when 65 percent of the voters here cast a ballot when Barack Obama was elected, he said.

Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-37th Dist., ran a write-in campaign in the general election after losing in the primary to Democratic candidate Aaron Coleman. Rep. Frownfelter’s name was not on the general election ballot, and his campaign urged voters to “Write in Stan.”

Newby said since Rep. Frownfelter was the only Stan in the election, the Board of Canvassers decided to count all the votes with just “Stan,” “Frownfelter” or his entire name as a write-in – anything that was obvious it was for Frownfelter.

Rep. Frownfelter got 1,222 write-in votes, and Republican Kristina Smith, also a write-in candidate, received 620 write-in votes, he said.

It was not enough, though, as Coleman received 3,649 votes in the general election.

“I could not count ‘Anyone Else,’ ‘Snow White’ or ‘Snoop Dogg’” – all other names that had been written in, he said.

There were 186 miscellaneous, fictitious names, and even a profanity written in on the 37th District contest that did not count.

There were no requests for recounts on this election by 4 p.m. Tuesday, which was not surprising, as there were no close races, he said.

1,621 provisional votes counted

The total of registered voters includes some inactive voters, Newby said. The total number of registered voters here is 91,358, and 67,276 ballots were cast, for a 62.7 percent turnout, he said. There are 82,745 active registered voters, he said.

This election, there were 2,367 provisional votes total, and 1,621 were approved to count, he said. Those which were not counted totaled 746.

“Seventy percent of all provisional ballots did count,” he said. “The rumor that says provisional ballots do not count is a bald-faced lie.”

More than 500 people had to vote a provisional ballot because they went to the wrong polling place, he said.

They also had 967 ballots that were cast by voters who had received advanced ballots by mail and did not vote an advance ballot. Instead, they showed up for early voting and voted a ballot there, he said.

“Those were provisional, but they all counted,” he said. There is no penalty for deciding to go to the polling place and not sending in the advance mail ballot, he added.

There were 27 people, however, who did vote an advance mail ballot and also voted a provisional ballot in person, he said. Those provisional ballots were not counted.

While he did not look into the reasons why they might have tried to vote twice, he said he knew from past experience that the voter is often an elderly person who has forgotten that he voted earlier.

Voting twice is an election crime, and in the past they have referred cases to the district attorney’s office. When a provisional ballot is not counted, then the opinion of the district attorney is that the election office kept a person from committing a crime by having a provisional ballot that did not count, he said. Because of the provisional ballot, the individual did not vote twice.

Different kind of election year

It was a different kind of election this year, as the risk of COVID-19 resulted in many people voting by mail or in advance polling sites.

While some other areas have reported election workers who got COVID-19, there were no election workers in Wyandotte County who reported any illnesses to them, Newby said.

One election office employee thought she had been exposed to COVID-19, he added, but it was her spouse who was exposed at work, and her three tests all came back negative.

All the election workers had to wear masks, he said.

“One of the things I was real strict about was everybody wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer,” Newby said.

He let the election workers know that under the law, no one could be prevented from voting because they weren’t wearing a mask.

“I told them wearing or not wearing a mask was not an obstacle to voting, it is a constitutional right to vote, and that rules the day,” Newby said.

Voters were good about wearing masks, he said. He didn’t see any voters without a mask, and while there may have been an occasional voter without a mask, he didn’t hear about it.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each in-person voter who voted a paper ballot received a free pen with a rubber-tipped stylus and a tip that could be used to sign the poll book, he said. Voters got to keep that pen. The voters who voted on a touch screen received a long disposable Q-Tip so no further contact was being made with the instrument used to vote.

They had cleaning supplies available at each polling place to immediately clean screens, so nothing was passed on to other voters, he said.

Newby said when they counted mail ballots, he required workers to wear masks and sit at least 6 feet away from others. At the vote canvassing, workers also distanced and wore masks all the time, he added.

“We did everything we could do to prevent somebody from catching COVID, working this election,” he said.

The final official Wyandotte County vote totals are online at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56606b47e4b0b9403ad6ff96/t/5fb302ed4b72177acb15dc92/1605567213873/Official+Website.pdf.

Providence Medical Center seeing small increase in COVID-19 numbers, and watching rates

Providence Medical Center, 8929 Parallel Parkway, has seen some small increases of COVID-19 patients for the past few weeks, and capacity also has been a little tight because of staffing, according to a spokesman.

“We haven’t seen spikes (in COVID-19 patients), just increases of two to three more each week,” said Sam Allred, a spokesman for Providence. He is the regional director of business development, marketing and physician recruitment for Providence Medical Center, which is a member of Prime Healthcare.

He said the hospital is not where it was during the first wave that came through.

“We actually have plenty of bed space,” he said. “What we don’t have, which is just as important, is the staff.”

There have been some staff members out on quarantine, but it hasn’t been a lot of staff members, he added. There also have been some nurses who were set to retire in a year or two and decided to go ahead and retire now, he added.

“What we’re fighting, and we’re trying to recruit more people, is not a physical capacity, but a staff capacity,” he said. “We’re OK, but we’re tight, not because of space, necessarily.”

When the first wave of COVID-19 patients came through in the spring, the hospital converted areas of the hospital to COVID-19 units to increase its capacity, he said.

They could do that again, if necessary, but the challenge would be finding the staffing for it, he added. Available staff members are often in the same hiring pool, with many of the hospitals looking for people to hire.

They’re currently at the point where, if the trend continues, they would have to look at how to deploy staff from other units to keep up with any potential increases in dealing with COVID-19, he said.

They will be watching the data and making determinations week by week, Allred said.

The number of COVID-19 inpatients at Providence changes every day. On Thursday, the number was 13 COVID-19 positive inpatients, with another 13 inpatients who were “persons under investigation,” who may or may not have COVID-19, he said.

There were higher numbers than that in the springtime, during the first wave, Allred said.

Providence took care of some of the patients from Riverbend Post-Acute Rehabilitation Center, where there was an outbreak of over 130 COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths in the spring.

It also has received some of the patients from The Piper Assisted Living facility, on North 113th Terrace, which is listed on the Unified Government’s COVID-19 outbreak map as having had 76 COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths.

Allred said currently, COVID-19 patients aren’t as sick as they were in the first wave, and fewer of them are on ventilators.

While the intensive care unit has had more patients recently, it’s not full, Allred said.

Providence also has had some calls from small hospitals an hour and a half away, but it is not taking a lot of transfer patients, he said. It isn’t because they don’t want them, but it depends on the day and all the variables involved with the patient and what the patient needs. They are taking some transfers, but it is very limited, he added.

So far, they have not had to handle surgeries differently than usual, he said. They have policies and procedures in place to make sure the surgery is needed, to watch the data and to make sure there is enough staff, he said.

“We’re in a much different place with our PPE (personal protective equipment),” he said. With the first wave of patients, some surgeries and procedures were postponed around the nation to conserve gear and equipment.

While they are still conserving PPE, they are doing much better with supplies now, he said. They also obtained more reusable equipment as much as possible.

Allred said they are continuing to watch the COVID-19 numbers, as hospital admissions have increased two or three each week, and hope that they see a valley in the rates again.

85 percent of mail-in ballots returned in Wyandotte County

As of Monday, 85 percent of mail ballots had been returned to the Election Office, according to Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.

Total votes cast were 36,385 as of Monday, according to Newby. That includes 20,105 mail ballots and 16,280 ballots cast in person at three early voting locations.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Wyandotte County. Registered voters who have not voted yet should go to their assigned polling places and should bring an approved ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Mike Taylor, a Unified Government spokesman, said today that there has been a really great turnout in the election so far.

He said the election commissioner thinks that the highest voter turnout in recent years was in the 2008 presidential election, with about 65 percent, and this election may meet or exceed that. They may be on track to set a record, he said.

Kansas law allows any mail ballots still at home to be postmarked on Nov. 3, before 7 p.m., and arrive by Friday at the Election Office to be counted, he said. Voters also can use a ballot drop box by 7 p.m. Tuesday or drive the mail-in ballot to any Wyandotte County polling place while polls are open.

“At this point, I would use a drop box,” Taylor said. He encouraged people to put them in one of the five ballot drop box locations in Wyandotte County before 7 p.m. Tuesday. Those mail ballots also can be filled out and taken to any Wyandotte County polling place or the Election Office before 7 p.m. Tuesday.

If a person received an advance ballot in the mail and they show up in person to vote, they will be given a provisional ballot, Taylor said.. That is a safety check to make sure people don’t vote twice, he said.

There has been some discussion recently about whether guns can be taken into polling places. Guns should not be carried openly at the polls, and voter intimidation is against the law.

Taylor said, however, if a person has a concealed carry permit, he or she may go into a polling place with their gun concealed, unless the building where voting is held has posted a sign that says guns are not allowed.

Electioneering also is against the law, and no signs, clothes with political messages or campaign advocacy are allowed within 250 feet of the polls.

Early voting closed at noon Monday at the Election Office.

The voting totals for the three satellite early voting centers as of Monday: Election Office, 5,774; Amayo-Argentine Community Center, 3,151; and Eisenhower Recreation Center, 7,355.

The locations of the six mail ballot drop boxes: two drop boxes at the Election Office, 850 State Ave.; one each at Kansas City, Kansas, City Hall, 701 N. 7th St.; at the West Wyandotte Library, 1737 N. 82nd St.; at Bonner Springs City Library, 201 N. Nettleton Ave., Bonner Springs; and at Edwardsville City Hall, 690 S. 4th St., Edwardsville.

A voters’ guide is at http://wyandottedaily.com/voters-guide-for-the-2020-general-election/.

Candidate forums for the Kansas House and Kansas Senate seats in Wyandotte County, through KCKCC and Business West, are available for viewing on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMfeRPiOepX1DVWc9Tz2RISP4a-Hmxnpq.

For more information on voting on Election Day, the Wyandotte County Election Office at 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, has more information about voting questions at wycovotes.org, or email election@wycokck.org, or call the Election Office at 913-573-8500.

For locations of polling places on Election Day, see https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56606b47e4b0b9403ad6ff96/t/5f6b7c25dc536f0db2aa6dbe/1600879653285/Poll+Locations+-+November+3%2C+2020+General+Election+-+Alpha+Listing.pdf.

Ballot-tracking and how to find a polling place: The Voter View website can tell voters if they are registered, where their specific polling place is, and what is on their ballot. It will also tell voters if their ballots have been sent to them, and if the ballot has been received by the office. Voter View is at https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView.

If you believe there has been an election violation, you can file a complaint online on the Kansas secretary of state’s website at https://www.sos.ks.gov/forms/elections/complaintform.pdf.

Jared Maag, a federal prosecutor, will be available to the public to respond to complaints of possible election fraud or voting rights violations in Kansas at 785-295-2858 while the polls are open on Nov. 3.

The ACLU of Kansas is encouraging voters to track their ballots and call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR VOTE if they encounter any difficulties or see any irregularities.

For information about bus rides to the polls, visit https://ridekc.org/blog/voting-options.

Earlier stories about the election are at http://wyandottedaily.com/category/election-2020/.