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.

Mulvany Henry wins BPU, at large position 3 contest

Rose Mulvany Henry, left, new Board of Public Utilities member-elect, shook hands with David Haley, in second place in the BPU at large position 3 contest, after certified vote totals were announced today at the Wyandotte County Election Office. Mulvany Henry won by 37 votes. (Photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

General election results were certified this morning, and Rose Mulvany Henry won one of the closest contests, the Board of Public Utilities, at large position 3 race, with David Haley in second.

While 138 additional votes were counted today at the canvass at the Wyandotte County Election Office and the vote totals changed, none of the Nov. 5 election night outcomes changed, according to election officials.

The new vote totals for Mulvany Henry were 6,206 to Haley’s 6,169, a difference of 37 votes. In the certified totals today, Haley narrowed the 44-vote election night margin. Unofficial results before today’s provisional ballots were counted had Mulvany Henry ahead by 50, as some mail-in ballots came in after the Nov. 5 election night, by Nov. 9.

Both Mulvany Henry and Haley attended the Board of Canvassers meeting today, awaiting the certified results.

“I’m grateful to the community for putting their faith in me,” Mulvany Henry said after the meeting.

Sen. Haley, who did not concede on election night because of the close vote, said, “I’m glad we’ll have a new voice on the board, to hopefully raise the voice of the public, and every vote does count.”

Haley recalled that in one of his early career elections, he won election by only five votes in the primary, and in 2006, when he ran for Kansas secretary of state, he was ahead in the primary by only about 200 votes.

The incumbent for BPU, at large position 3, Norm Scott, did not get through the crowded primary field.

The new Wyandotte County voter turnout percentage for the fall election increased slightly to 16.94 percent with the certified totals.

While Election Commissioner Bruce Newby today recommended counting 158 provisional ballots, he did not recommend counting another 58 provisional ballots.

According to the election commissioner, these ballots that were not counted included 19 who were not registered to vote; 28 who did not sign the voter affidavit in the advance mail ballot; three who changed their address but did not turn in a voter registration application for it; four who changed their names but did not turn in a voter registration application for it; one who moved out of the county; one who did not provide a photo identification before the canvass; and two who voted twice, one in advance voting and once at the polling place on Election Day.

About 25 provisional ballots were counted from voters who cast ballots at the wrong precinct, and 23 with address changes who voted at the correct precinct, according to election office information. About 19 voters voted the wrong precinct ballot and seven provisional ballots voted the correct precinct ballot, and were counted.

Nine ballots were counted from those who voted at a correct precinct, with a voter registration application; while 24 voters cast the correct precinct provisional ballot at the polls, which was counted, but they had been sent an advance ballot that they did not cast.

Twelve voters in the same households signed each other’s ballot envelopes, but were counted anyway, while 17 voters signed the ballot envelope in the wrong place, and were counted, according to election office information.

The final certified results for the general election are posted online at the Wyandotte County Election Office website at www.wycovotes.org, and at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56606b47e4b0b9403ad6ff96/t/5dd2f3ed6b252731315e5e63/1574106093840/SKM_C36819111812490.pdf.

Earlier stories about the election may be found at http://wyandottedaily.com/not-over-yet-mulvany-henry-cautiously-optimistic-about-44-vote-lead-in-election-haley-also-remains-optimistic/ and http://wyandottedaily.com/mulvany-henry-wins-bpu-at-large-position-3-ramirez-wins-ug-3rd-district/

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Waiting in the audience at the Board of Canvassers meeting this morning were, left to right, Unified Government Commissioner Harold Johnson, who was re-elected; Pat Brune, who was elected to the Kansas City Kansas Community College Board of Trustees; and David Haley, who came in second for a Board of Public Utilities seat. (Photo by Mary Rupert)
The Board of Canvassers meeting was held on Monday morning at the Wyandotte County Election Office at 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Mary Rupert)

Brandau Murguia out at the UG Commission after win by Ramirez Tuesday night

Christian Ramirez won election Tuesday night to the Unified Government Commission, 3rd District. (File photo by Mary Rupert)
Ann Brandau Murguia lost the election for 3rd District, UG Commission, after serving in office 13 years.

by Mary Rupert

Christian Ramirez won the Unified Government Commission’s 3rd District on Tuesday night with 717 votes to incumbent Commissioner Ann Brandau Murguia’s 605 votes.

The 112-vote margin for Ramirez was a big change from the primary election results, where Brandau Murguia led Ramirez by 145 votes.

Ramirez attributed his win to a lot of hard work campaigning in the district, while Brandau Murguia said last-minute negative campaign fliers about her affected the outcome of the election.

Brandau Murguia, who has been a commissioner for 13 years, today offered her congratulations to Ramirez and said she would be available to answer any of his questions and assist him in the transition.

“And I hope District 3 continues to move forward,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the community, Argentine and Rosedale, substantial improvements, and I want to see that all continue.”

Ramirez: Knocking on doors made the difference

Ramirez today attributed his win to going door-to-door in the district.

“The way I was able to win, was I actually was out knocking on the doors and listening and talking to the people, and wanting to share their concerns,” Ramirez said.

Voter turnout definitely increased in the district. Four years ago, only a little over 500 people voted in the district compared to the general election Tuesday night, where 1,322 people cast votes.

Ramirez said one of the first things he will do when he takes office is to meet with all the nonprofit groups, the organizations, neighborhood associations and development associations, and create or re-create relationships to create a line of communication between them.

He said he had the same campaign style for the general election as the primary, knocking on doors each weekend.

“It was a very positive race between me and Commissioner Murguia,” Ramirez said. When he announced, he told everyone he was going to run a positive campaign, focusing on the issues, he said.

“I believe the voters are wanting a change, they’re wanting a more transparent government, a more accountable UG, and moreso, wanting a commissioner who will be out in the community to talk to the people and try to listen to their concerns,” Ramirez said. “They are wanting change for how our government operates.

“They want change, they want to make sure our government is working for them and not the other way around,” Ramirez said.

“I would like to thank all the 3rd District for believing in me and trusting in me for this position,” he said. “I’m ready to work for our community, work for the district and ready to move our community forward as one.”

Brandau Murguia: Negative flier has impact

Brandau Murguia said there was no doubt that in the last three years her family has had a lot of drama going on, with her false arrest for domestic violence involving a friend, and another news story this year regarding her ex-husband’s behavior.

“I think those things didn’t help matters, and then I think I underestimated the negative campaigning,” she said.

A last-minute flier went out about her that was “horrible,” she said. She was unable to trace the flier to an individual, she said, although it had an organization’s name on it.

“I thought they were so egregious and awful, I thought, no way anybody’s going to put any merit into this at all,” Brandau Murguia said. “I just underestimated it.”

She said she received sympathy cards and messages from people, and some said it was the worst case of hate mail they had ever seen.

“I don’t participate in negative politics nor do I respond to it,” she said. “I feel like that had an impact.”

Her campaign team wanted her to send out a negative flier about her opponent, but she said she did not want to do that. Also, she was advised to answer the flier, but she decided not to.

She said she thinks most people understand that there were things that had happened that were beyond her control, such as being a victim of domestic violence.

Brandau Murguia said she campaigned door-to-door in this election, spoke to a lot of people and put up campaign signs. “People were very supportive,” she said.

“I’ve been a commissioner for over a decade, for 13 years,” she said. “Maybe it was just that people were looking for a change. You never really know.”

The negative flier also claimed that she was backing Jorge Flores in his campaign against incumbent Commissioner Harold Johnson, but Brandau Murguia said she had not asked him to run. She added she was a friend of both Flores and Johnson, and she has never had any major disputes with Commissioner Johnson.

Commissioner Brandau Murguia also said that she did not get Angela Markley to run for the 6th District several years ago, but that once Markley was elected, they became good friends.

“Clearly my work has spoken for itself, the district looks fantastic from County Line to Strong Avenue,” she said. “There’s a lot to do, but we’re making incredible progress.”

The Argentine and Rosedale areas have experienced a lot of economic development during her term in office.

“Anyone who drove through District 3 today, vs. 13 years ago, no doubt sees that it is completely different than what it was 13 years ago, and the answer was better,” she said. “I let my work speak for itself but that doesn’t always work in politics, a lot of it is rumor and gossip, it’s a shame.”

Brandau Murguia said she is still serving the two remaining years on her Board of Regents term. She will be looking around in the future to see if there are some opportunities at some point for higher office, she added.

While some people believe she would be great at being in charge of economic development for an entire community, Brandau Murguia said she is taking a break for a while, and it will be nice to spend some time with her daughter.

“I’ve been in politics since she was born, so it will be nice to spend a lot of time with her,” she said.