A 25.9 percent total voter turnout has been seen at the polls in Wyandotte County through 12:30 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.
Newby said 8,535 mail ballots have come back so far, which is added to 2,121 early voters in person and 4,521 voters in person at the polling places through 12:30 p.m. today, for a total of 15,177 votes so far.
There are a total of 58,546 registered Democrats and Republicans eligible to vote in the primary here, he said.
Early this morning, there was good activity at each polling place, but not on the level that they will expect at the general election, he added. None of the polling places was overwhelmed.
The polling places are practicing social distancing and taking other health precautionary measures.
Many voters opted for mail ballots this year because of the potential risk of COVID-19, Newby confirmed.
The election office sent out 11,616 mail ballots, with an 80 percent return on them so far, he said. Voters who have received mail ballots may fill them out and drop them off at any polling place today before 7 p.m. They also can mail them back, if they can get a Tuesday postmark on them. The mailed ballots will have to be received in the mail at the election office by Friday.
In the past, only about 50 percent of those who received a mail ballot here actually voted, he added. The higher return this time showed that people were genuinely motivated to vote, he added.
Of those who showed up in person to vote today, most of them were wearing masks on their own, Newby said. However, because of the nature of the election and the constitutional right to vote, the election office cannot prevent anybody from voting, whether they have a mask on or not, he said. Election workers will not be requiring anyone to wear a mask.
“We hope they would protect themselves with a mask,” he added. While not allowed to require voters to wear a mask, he still has a personal opinion about it. He hoped that if a person was experiencing symptoms or was positive for COVID-19, that person would have asked for a ballot by mail. If they show up at the polling place, not wearing a mask and are symptomatic, they would have just exposed all the election workers, and the average age of an election worker is 72, he said.
“One of the things that is amazing to me, with all the things we’ve read lately about COVID-19 rates at Wyandotte County and the KC metro, we still have too many people not taking this seriously,” Newby said.
The election office provided masks for all the election workers, but it didn’t have the budget to provide 80,000 voters with a mask, he added.
They are giving a pen to voters who are voting in person this year. The voters use a pen to sign the poll book and also to fill out their ballots, and they can keep the pen this year, he said. It is not being shared among voters because of health risks. Also, voters who choose to vote on touch screens are being given a disposable Q-tip on a long stick, he added.
Because there might still be some ballots in the mail, the results that are announced tonight will be unofficial, he said. Final unofficial results will be announced on Friday, and official results will be announced after the voter canvass Aug. 17, he added.