No changes after local recount of state treasurer primary
BY DALE HOGG
Barton County commissioners met briefly Wednesday afternoon as the Board of Canvassers. Their sole task was to canvass the hand-recounted votes from the Aug. 2 Republican primary for the office of state treasurer.
“There were no changes,” said Bev Schmeidler, county clerk and election officer. “Everything was spot-on with our records.”
She received word Saturday from the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office that Barton County was to recount the votes from the “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment question and the treasurer’s race. Her staff called people and gathered eight volunteers to meet at the Courthouse to do the counting on Monday morning.
She learned Monday they only had to do the treasurer’s contest. Candidate Caryn Tyson of Parker, who last week requested the recount, is losing to Steven Johnson of Assaria by a slim margin.
In all, six counties were involved in the treasurer recount. This was pared down from the original 55 counties requested. “I’m not sure why she picked Barton. It wasn’t even close,” Schmeidler said.
Tyson lost here by a vote of 3,145 to 1,838.
The other counties involved are Cloud, Harvey, McPherson, Ottawa and Dickinson.
Schmeidler’s independent board hand-counted the early and mail-in ballots from all 41 county precincts, and early, mail-in and election day ballots for the City of Great Bend. They were done by early Wednesday afternoon.
She said she can’t be a part of the counting process because she is the county election officer. That is why the board had to be called together.
As for the cost of the recount at the state level, Tyson put up a $2,570.54 bond with the Kansas Secretary of State, said KSOS spokesperson Whitney Tempel. The bond is only returned to the candidate if the outcome changes.
All 105 counties have completed their canvass to certify their election results, Tempel said. Election results for statewide races are considered unofficial until the State Board of Canvassers certifies the election by Sept. 1.
As of Thursday morning, Johnson had 219,426 votes and Caryn Tyson had 218,951, a difference of 475 votes.
The state, in turn, will reimburse the county for at least part its expenses, Schmeidler said.
The county paid the counters $10 per hour and bought them lunch. Schmeidler said they will still likely be out some money.
The counties involved in the recount have until Saturday to complete them, so the final differences will not be known until after that. Cloud County finished Tuesday, finding no changes.
Nine counties scattered across the state were picked to recount the amendment ballots.
There were also nine different counties recounting the Republican primary votes for the Kansas House 118th District in northwest Kansas.
There was some good news and bad news for the Barton County Clerk’s Office in the wake of the Aug. 2 primary election.
First the bad news.
“We were notified by the (Kansas) Secretary of State’s Office Saturday that we were chosen initially to do the constitutional amendment question (vote) recount and the state treasurer Republican race recount,” County Clerk Bev Schmeidler told the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning.
So, her office scrambled to recruit an army of volunteers as an independent board to hand-count the ballots for both.
Her staff came in Saturday and called over 60 people. They wound up with eight residents able to help.
Now, the good news.
“By Monday, we found out that we did not have to recount the constitutional amendment. We only had to do the state treasurer Republican race,” Schmeidler said.
“So, we have eight people who thought they were done yesterday (Tuesday),” she said. But, “there was a miscommunication between the party asking for the recount and the Secretary of State’s office, so we called the board back last night and they all showed up again today (Wednesday). So they’re up there now recounting more precincts.”
The counting was completed by early afternoon Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, the commissioners met as the Board of County Canvassers to canvass the votes in the commission’s Courthouse chamber.
“This is very unusual,” said District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier of the recount. “Have you ever had something like this?”
“Nobody in our office has been through a recount,” Schmeidler said. She recalled her predecessor Donna Zimmerman talking about having one in the past, but no one there now has been through this.
Technically, she said she can have no part in the counting process because she is the county election officer. “It’s an independent board that has come in.”
“I appreciate people in the county willing to step up for that,” said District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz. “That’s got to be a thankless job.”
This marked Schmeidler’s first election as county clerk and she faced a crowded primary and now the recount.
“Good job, it was baptism by fire,” said commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:
• Heard a Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Mid-Year Training Institute recap.
Health Department Health Educator Katelyn Sigler said through a collaborative effort of the Barton County Health Department and 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services, she and Jasmine Figueroa, Youth Crew member, attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Mid-Year Training Institute July 17-21.
While at the conference in Gaylord Palms Hotel, Orlando, Fla., they were able to learn from coalition and youth leaders from all over the world.
• Tabled action on a Rural Water District No. 1 infrastructure improvement assistance request.
• Approved a change order for the Kansas Department of Transportation-cost share program agreement involving the resurfacing of SW 40 Avenue (Airport Road).
On March 16, the commission approved an agreement with KDOT for Cost Share Program funding to resurface SW 40 Avenue (Airport Road) from the U.S. 56 intersection north to the West Barton County Road intersection, County Engineer Barry McManaman said.
Venture Corporation of Great Bend completed this project on July 19. The $858,934.74 final total cost includes an overrun from the original contract price of $857,855.34, he said.
The $1,079.40 overrun reflects normal variations in the quantities of materials used, he said. After the county pays Venture the full amount, KDOT will reimburse the County $600,000. Per the agreement between Barton County and the City of Great Bend, the city will reimburse the county for its $129,467.37 share of the project.
• Approved an out-of-state travel request for County Engineer Barry McManaman to attend the Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (MINK) Conference to be held in St. Joseph, Mo., Sept. 28-29. Program topics include maintenance, administration, safety and funding for local road programs.