The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office has ordered 180 drop boxes for counties to use to collect advance ballots for the Nov. 3 general election and thereafter. Labette County will get two of the drop boxes.
Gov. Laura Kelly said advance ballots would help keep voters safe from COVID-19 and the drop boxes will relieve pressure on the U.S. Postal Service for the November election. Operational changes in the U.S. Postal Service have raised concerns that post offices can sort and deliver mailed-in ballots in time to be counted. State and local election officials fear the pandemic may keep voters out of polling locations on Nov. 3, and they think advance ballots offer a safe alternative for participating in the election.
Secretary of State Scott Schwab offered each of the state’s 105 counties up to two drop-off boxes where people can deposit advance ballots.
Katie Koupal, deputy assistant secretary of state for communications and policy for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the office ordered the drop boxes on Monday. Twelve counties opted out of the offer to receive two drop boxes. She said 79 counties requested two drop boxes, 12 counties requested one drop box. Wabaunsee County requested three drop boxes and Johnson County requested seven, Koupal said.
These stainless steel boxes will hold an average of 1,640 ballots, she said. They are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and offer one-hand delivery at ADA height. Each box has multiple security protections to prevent tampering, Koupal said.
Each box costs $2,029, including shipping, and they were paid for with the $4.6 million the state received in federal CARES Act funds to be used in the 2020 elections, she said.
Koupal said the drop boxes will include guidance for placement, installation and location.
“The guidance will include evaluations for lighting, security cameras, accessibility, visibility and parking or drive-thru options. Ballots will be retrieved by at least two county election officials or sworn, bipartisan election boards. In addition, each county will develop additional procedures to ensure chain-of-custody ballot logs are collected,” she said.
The boxes will be emptied at least once a day.
Labette County Clerk Gena Landis said she and her staff are evaluating locations and procedures for the boxes, which should be delivered the second week in October. Advance ballots will be mailed Oct. 14 for the general election.