Vote Canvass

Labette County Commissioner Cole Proehl signs the abstract of the 2020 general election Monday afternoon in Oswego.

OSWEGO — Labette County commissioners on Monday canvassed ballots from the Nov. 3 general election. No races changed as a result of the canvass, though 124 votes from provisional ballots were added to the total.

In all, 8,628 ballots were counted from the election. Nine of those came into the clerk’s office by Friday after Election Day with an Election Day postmark. And 26 ballots had to be counted by hand.

As of Nov. 4, when the Labette County count finally ended because of mechanical issues, 8,469 ballots had been tallied. Monday’s canvass added 159 ballots to the total because of reviewing provisional ballots, adding hand-counted ballots and the election-week arrival ballots.

During the canvass, commissioners, acting as the board of canvassers, review ballot counts for each voting precinct in the county, one by one. If provisional ballots are tied to those precincts, commissioners listen to the reasons for the ballots being placed in provisional envelopes and decide, based on the law recited by County Counselor Brian Johnson, if the votes will count. There were 212 provisional ballots and more than half counted. 

Provisional ballots mean poll workers encountered issues with a vote, usually involving the voter’s registration status. This could be because of a change of address, name change, a name not being found in a poll pad or a voter going to the wrong precinct. The county clerk’s office researches provisional ballots thoroughly to give canvassers facts about the voter’s eligibility.

A number of provisionals were because a voter received an advance (mailed) ballot and decided to vote at the polling location instead. The clerks determined each time that these voters did not turn in an advance ballot, so the ballot from the polling location counted. You can only vote one ballot.

A number of provisionals also were because a potential voter was not registered. You must be registered to vote in order for your ballot to count in Kansas. Some registered after the deadline for the Nov. 3 election, which was Oct. 13. So their vote did not count.

Only two ID issues came up on provisionals. In one, a voter didn’t produce an ID at the polling location, as required by law, so that vote did not count. On another, a voter produced a military ID. This vote counted because military IDs are acceptable.

About a dozen provisionals were from voters registered in other counties, or other states, but they voted in Labette County. These ballots did not count.

One voter was registered in Crawford County and lives in Crawford County but voted in Labette.

“There’s nothing about that that works,” Commissioner Fred Vail said at the canvass.

Eight advance ballots didn’t count because voters neglected to sign their envelopes, as required, and they did not respond to repeated calls from clerks to get them to come into the office to sign the envelop to fix the issue.

A smaller number of votes didn’t count because the voters’ registration was canceled. If a voter does not cast a ballot in two consecutive federal elections, their right to vote is canceled in Kansas. So they have to register to vote again.

About a half dozen people in quarantine voted. Poll workers had to retrieve the ballots wearing personal protective equipment.

One of the advance ballots received by Friday of election week did not have a postmark. It came from Idaho, but it could not be counted without a postmark.

County Clerk Gena Landis told canvassers one advance ballot was left in the Labette County Judicial Center’s ballot drop box without an envelope. Without a valid and signed envelope the ballot could not be counted.


In other business, the commission:

— Agreed to close the courthouse at noon Dec. 31 so staff can finish year-end work and prepare for the annual audit.

— Approved a resolution appointing Patrick LaForge to the Sewer District No. 1 board.

— Approved a resolution naming Commissioner Cole Proehl as the ex-officio member of the Great Plains Development Authority board.

— Met in closed session for five minutes with County Counselor Brian Johnson. No action followed.

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