This year’s elections are getting a boost from young election workers.
With some of the regular election workers unable to be at the polls Aug. 4 because of COVID-19, an effort has been made to recruit high school students and young adults.
Sheyvette Dinkens, a business educator at Wyandotte High School, said she recently brought about 10 students to election worker training.
This past weekend, Dinkens went with students from Wyandotte High School and Sumner Academy to the training session at the Wyandotte County election office. Students who are over 16 may work at the polls. More training sessions are expected to take place.
Students learned about checking voters in, provisional ballots and other topics, she said. Many of the students are bilingual and will be able to help with translations, she added.
The students also learned about the rules for primaries, such as registered Republicans can only vote the Republican ballot, and registered Democrats can only vote the Democratic ballot. In the general election, voters can vote for any candidate.
Some of the students don’t know much about elections, having not voted before, Dinkens added. This is an educational experience for them, she said. They will be under the supervision of an experienced supervising election judge at the polls, she added. The students receive $9.01 per hour for working at the polls.
Dinkens said students at the training were provided with general government education on elections and how they work. She said she believes it’s important for students to support the local community, and the experience will be good for them.
During training, they talked about how many election locations have closed because of COVID-19, and also about how people are using physical spacing at the polling places, she said.
“The election office has taken precautions, they have the spacing and partitions up,” Dinkens said. They also will have markers on the floor showing people where to stand to be safely spaced apart.
Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said youth have been eligible to work at the elections for some time, and this year the election office has been more aggressively recruiting young election workers.
Since many election workers here are over the age of 72, many of them are dropping out of working at this year’s election because they don’t want to take the risk of getting COVID-19, Newby said. That creates vacancies that the election office has to fill, he added.
The election office here desperately needs election workers and especially younger election workers, he said. It’s not too late to call the election office and ask to be an election worker, he added. If necessary, they will train election workers all the way up to the day before election, he said.
Holding an election this year has been a different experience.
“It’s a challenge,” Newby said. “This year was going to be difficult enough without the COVID-19 thing overlaying everything. We’re doing everything we can.”
They’re trying to keep the election as normal as possible, he said, with the exception that they have pushed voting by mail very hard. All of the voting options will still be available.
There has been some pushback from some people who think others will try to steal the election if it’s a mail-in ballot, but procedures are in place to keep that from happening, Newby said. There are laws in place that make it a felony offense to interfere with elections and change votes, he added.
Mail ballots still available
Wyandotte County, as a lot of other places in Kansas, has been encouraging voters to use mail-in ballots to keep the risk down of people spreading COVID-19. The state has allowed mail ballots for many years.
So far, they’re over 10,000 applications for a mail ballot. This week, the Wyandotte County election office sent out 9,728 ballots, Newby said. They have 600 pending to send out and there will be more when they check the mail on Saturday, he added.
“It’s not too late to apply to vote by mail,” Newby said. The deadline to apply to vote by mail is Tuesday, July 28, one week before Election Day, he said. “Voters still have time if they want to protect themselves,” he said.
He added the best way for voters to protect themselves is to vote by mail.
Newby said as soon as they get an application, they process it and try to get the ballot out the same day or a day or two later. Voters need to plan to get the ballots back to the election office. It might take two to three days in the mail to get there.
If voters return the ballot by mail, it has to be postmarked by Election Day and received by the Friday after Election Day, according to the state law, he said. If the postmark says the day after Election Day, it isn’t counted.
Also, a voter can return the ballot in person to the Election Office or to any polling place on Election Day, during the hours the polls are in operation, he said.
Besides polls being open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., there will be early voting dates as usual at three election centers, one at the Election Office at 850 State, one at the Joe Amayo-Argentine Community Center at 2810 Metropolitan Ave., and one at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, 2901 N. 72nd St.
Those who go to the polls in person may have to wait in line and will social distance, he said. At this time, he doesn’t know how long it will take to wait in line, he added.
To mask or not to mask?
The election workers all will be wearing masks provided by the election office, he said. While there is a mandatory mask order in effect in public places from the Wyandotte County Health Department, and while he hopes everyone wears a mask, Newby said he could not enforce it at the polls, and could not make voters wear a mask.
“The Wyandotte County election office and none of the election workers are in the business of enforcing the mask requirement,” Newby said. “Voter eligibility is determined by whether the person is a resident, registered to vote and 18 or over. That’s it. There’s no requirement in the law that says they have to wear a mask.”
Newby said he hopes all the voters comply with the Health Department policy, and protect everyone. But the only ones he can protect and require to wear a mask are his election workers, he added.
On Friday, a news release from Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab stated that a memo has been sent from his office to county election officials advising them not to turn away any individual who is otherwise qualified to vote, for wearing or not wearing a mask. Schwab’s memo cited the Kansas Constitution’s statement that the only three criteria to vote in Kansas were age, citizenship and residence. If the voter is properly registered, state law says the person shall be allowed to cast a vote, according to Schwab’s memo.
Schwab’s news release stated that voter intimidation or voter suppression based on the fact that a voter is or is not wearing a mask will not be tolerated and is subject to litigation.
If election workers want to wear gloves, gloves will be provided for them, Newby said. Hand sanitizer cannot be used because it might interfere with the paper, and the voting machines may not count the votes, he said. Each polling place will have a restroom where workers and voters may wash their hands, he added.
Newby said there will be supplies provided at the polls for voting machines and surfaces to be wiped down between voters. There are special wipes for the voting machines that will not damage them, he added.
Each voter will receive a two-ended pen, he said. On one end, there will be a stylus, and on the other end, a ballpoint. With the stylus they will sign the pad, and with the ink side, they can sign and fill out the ballot. The voters will get to keep the pen, he said, as the election office doesn’t want people to share pens and potentially spread the coronavirus.
Advance voting at three election centers
Wyandotte County will continue to offer advance voting available in person at three election centers.
- Election Office, 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 21-24; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 25; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27 to July 31; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1; 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 3.
- Joe Amayo-Argentine Community Center, 2810 Metropolitan Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 25; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27 to July 31; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.
- Eisenhower Recreation Center, 2901 N. 72nd St., Kansas City, Kansas, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 25; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27 to July 31; 10 .a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.
In-person voting on Election Day
Voters may vote at their assigned polling places on Election Day, Aug. 4, and three of those places have changed.
Newby said they have reduced the number of polling places on Election Day by three by consolidating them with other nearby polling places. The three consolidated were the three smallest in the county, he added, with 200 to 300 voters affected. Those voters, if they vote in person, will go a few blocks down the street to their new polling place.
Polling places open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 4, Election Day, include:
• Bethel SDA Church, 6910 RIverview Ave., Ward-Precinct 9-5, 9-6, 9-7
• Bible Temple Baptist Church, 2804 Hiawatha St., Ward-Precinct 3-1, 3-2
• Bonner Springs Church of the Nazarene, 742 N. Nettleton Ave., BS4-1
• Bonner Springs Family YMCA, 2251 S. 138th St. BS1-1, BS3-1
• Calvary Bible Church, 518 W. Insley Ave., BS2-1, DE1-1
• CenterPointe Community Church, 401 N. 78th St., 9-8, 9-13, 9-14, 9-15
• Dynasty Volleyball Academy and Community Center, 7120 Gibbs Road, 12-10, 12-11, QC1-1
• Edwardsville Community Center, 696 S. 3rd St., ED1-1, ED2-1
• Eisenhower Recreation Center, 2901 N. 72nd St., 14-1, 14-2, 14-3, 14-4, 14-5
• Haven Baptist Church, 3430 Hutton Road, 9-16, 14-12, 14-13, 14-14
• Heart of America Regional Volleyball, 548 S. Coy St., 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 6-1, 6-2
• Hope Chapel (formerly known as New Life Family Church, 4835 Shawnee Drive, 12-4, 12-5, 12-6
• Joe Amayo – Argentine Community Center, 2810 Metropolitan Ave., 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 7-5, 7-6
• K-State Research and Extension Office, Wildcat Room, 1200 N. 79th St., 11-8, 11-9, 11-10
• Kane Community Center, 14-15
- London Heights Baptist, 734 N. 78th, 9-9, 9-10, 9-11, 9-12
- Mt. Carmel COGIC (East Wing), 2025 N. 12th St., 3-3, 3-4, 10-2
- Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 417 Richmond Ave., 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 2-4
- National Guard Armory (Breidenthal Hall), 100 S. 20th, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 5-5, 9-1, 9-2
- New Story Church, 5500 Woodend Ave., 12-7, 12-8, 12-9
- Oak Ridge Missionary Baptist Church, 9301 Parallel Parkway, 11-11, 11-12, 14-6, 14-7, 14-8, 14-16
- Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, 2013 N.7th St., 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-5
- Open Door Baptist Church, 3033 N. 103rd Ter., 14-9, 14-10, 14-11
- Quindaro Community Center, 2726 Brown Ave., 10-1, 10-3, 11-1, 11-2, 13-1
- Rainbow Mennonite Church, 1444 Southwest Blvd., 8-1, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4, 12-1, 12-2, 12-3
- Recreation Annex Building, 2900 State Ave., 9-3, 9-4, 10-4, 10-5
- Rios de Agua Viva Apostolic Church, 4000 Victory Drive, 11-3, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7
- St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church, 2200 N. 53rd St., 13-2, 13-3, 13-4, 13-9,
- Sunset Hills Christian Church, 6347 Leavenworth Road, 13-5, 13-6, 13-7, 13-8
- Wyandotte Tabernacle, 5301 Metropolitan Ave., 7-4, 7-7, 7-8, 7-9
Voters may request mail ballots through the election office at
For more information about being a student election worker, call Kyla Shepard at the election office at 913-573-8512 or visit https://wycovotes.org/student-election-workers
For more information on the election, visit https://wycovotes.org/