A few voters say they got the wrong ballots at general election

Mary Martin, center, talked with Election Commissioner Bruce Newby, left, during a break at the canvass on Nov. 18 at the election office. (Photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

At the election canvass on Nov. 18, a voter talked to the election commissioner and the media about getting the wrong ballot at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Mary Martin, who said she lives in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville No. 204 School District, said her ballot had both District 204 and the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education District 500 candidates on it.

The Board of Canvassers was not allowing any public comments during the official meeting Nov. 18, but Martin talked to individuals during breaks in the meeting.

Martin said she only voted for District 204 candidates. Her mother, Shirley Ikerd, also said she received a ballot with both races on it. They were both in precinct 9-14.

Ikerd, who also said she lives in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville School District, said she voted for her friend, Dr. Valdenia Winn, who ran for re-election to the KCK school board. “I voted for who I wanted to win,” she said. She added she didn’t vote for the District 204 candidates.

Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said he was hearing it all for the first time on Monday and questioned why they would wait almost two weeks before telling the election office about it.

Martin said she called her friends about it right away, but didn’t report it to the election office until Monday.

Another Wyandotte County resident in the same area, Gina Grady, told the Wyandotte Daily she also received a ballot with both District 204 and District 500 candidates on it. She said she lives in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville district, and did not vote for any District 500 candidates.

“I didn’t tell them,” she said. “At the time I didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t know if it was regular practice or not. As I found out, it’s not regular practice.”

Another Wyandotte County resident, who lives in Edwardsville, said she didn’t notice anything wrong with her ballot.

Martin said she thinks a new election should be held, but she had heard it would cost $70,000 or more. She said on Monday that she is going to fill out a complaint form.

“2020 is coming up and it’s going to be crazy,” Martin said. “Who knows what we’re going to see in 2020. I want to see a clean and fair election.”

Newby, however, doubted that their ballots had two school board races on it.

He said the precinct is split between the KCK and Bonner Springs-Edwardsville school districts. While the voters should have received the correct ballot, the voters still have the responsibility to look at it and tell the election judges at the polling place if they received the wrong ballot, he said. Then the election judge would give them the correct ballot. He added that in 99.9 percent of the cases, the voter receives the correct ballot.

While Martin said she thinks a new election should be held, Newby said there’s not grounds for it. The vote difference between fourth and fifth place in the Bonner Springs contest, for example, was greater than the amount of votes in question, he believes. He did not think the outcomes would change. In the KCK district, the distance between fourth and fifth place was around 200 votes. (The top four candidates advanced.)

Also, he said it is not up to the election commissioner to call a new election – that would be up to one of the school districts affected. Local candidates who want a recount have to pay about $3,000.

Recounts that have been held in the past have usually not come out very much different from the original count. For example, when Nathan Barnes had a hand re-count of ballots, the result was the same, Newby said.

Martin also was critical of the way a state constitutional question on the census was handled at polling places. There was a display of information on a table that was in sight of voters, and also, a card was handed to voters after they voted urging them to participate in the census.

Martin said she believed that was “electioneering,” or distributing information at the polling place, which is prohibited in general by election laws.

About the constitutional amendment, Newby said the information display was authorized by the Kansas secretary of state. The secretary of state’s office had run it by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission previously, which had no problem with it, Newby said.

The state ethics commission felt the statement was sufficiently generic, just providing information, he added. It didn’t tell people how to vote, just gave them more information on the constitutional question, he said.

A majority of the Legislature approved putting the constitutional amendment on the ballot. Displaying the voter information on the amendment wasn’t his policy decision; it was from the state level, and the state ethics commission was satisfied with it, he said.

Big Boy steam engine train passes through Edwardsville

Edwardsville, Kansas – Big Boy No. 4014 passed through Edwardsville, Kansas, this morning around 9:40 a.m. The steam engine left Union Station around 8:45 a.m. and wound its way through Edwardsville and Bonner Springs en route to Lawrence. Train enthusiasts, young and old alike, met Big Boy along the route at all train crossings. Moon Marble was one spot for a watch party, as the train traveled through the area. (Photo by Peggy B. Turrel)
Edwardsville, Kansas – Big Boy No. 4014 passed through Edwardsville, Kansas, this morning around 9:40 a.m. The steam engine left Union Station around 8:45 a.m. and wound its way through Edwardsville and Bonner Springs en route to Lawrence. Train enthusiasts, young and old alike, met Big Boy along the route at all train crossings. Moon Marble was one spot for a watch party, as the train traveled through the area. (Photo by Peggy B. Turrel)

4-H members clean up historic cemetery in Edwardsville

4-H members in Wyandotte County recently cleaned up an old, historic cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas. (Photo from 4-H)

Wyandotte County 4-H members recently held a cleanup at a cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas.

According to David Streit, who is a leader with a 4-H group, the 4-H members participated in a community service project on Oct. 12 as part of National 4-H Week.

The cemetery where the cleanup took place is known as Stoney Point Cemetery in Edwardsville, although it is not in the same neighborhood as another Stony Point area that is farther east in Kansas City, Kansas, in Wyandotte County. Streit said the cemetery is not really accessible by roads, but only from private property.

The cemetery had been abandoned at one point and was in need of a cleanup, according to Streit. Some headstones had fallen over and it was in need of repair, he said. He believes the last burials may have taken place there in the 1930s and 1940s. The cleanup was organized by Wyandotte County 4-H in conjunction with the city of Edwardsville and St. Martin in the Fields Church.

According to Streit, this cemetery in Edwardsville was founded by Junius Groves, a successful farmer known as the “potato king.”

Groves, who was born into slavery in 1859, was an Exoduster who settled in Edwardsville after traveling 500 miles on foot, according to Streit. He started as a sharecropper for John Williamson, and eventually saved enough money to purchase his own land.

In 1902 Groves was the single largest producer of potatoes in the world, earning the name, “potato king of the world,” Streit stated. He also was known as the first black millionaire west of the Mississippi River.

In 1886, Groves purchased an acre of rocky hillside for $1, which would become the Stoney Point Cemetery. It is thought that the white settlers of the time did not want blacks buried in the same cemetery, according to Streit.

Through their service project, the 4-H members learned about local history and historical figures such as Junius Groves, and honored the legacy of the people buried there, gave them dignity that is past due, and reflected on their own spiritual cleanup, Streit stated.

The 4-H group made a video of their cleanup project that is posted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV9bN_J0XuQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1ixbr16-snYPa08MjA7l6pTuwNeNUZD4PIn4ufgMqndFTXFmQlj3qYpcE .

4-H members in Wyandotte County recently cleaned up an old, historic cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas. (Photo from 4-H)
4-H members in Wyandotte County recently cleaned up an old, historic cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas. (Photo from 4-H)
4-H members in Wyandotte County recently cleaned up an old, historic cemetery in Edwardsville, Kansas. (Photo from 4-H)