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Primary canvass nets only slight change
County commissioners certify election results
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DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune Barton County Commission meet as the Board of County Canvassers in the Office of the County Clerk Monday morning.

In the end, the numbers changed slightly, but the overall results of last Tuesday’s primary election in Barton County remained the same.

This was the result of the ballot canvass held Monday morning. The Barton County Commission met as the Board of County Canvassers in the Office of the County Clerk to examine the provisional ballots and certify the election’s outcome.

“I really do think the system works here, I really think it does,” Barton County Election Officer Donna Zimmerman said. “I think that is an awesome message.”

The canvass took on a heightened importance in light of the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary pitting incumbent Colyer against Kobach. The outcome of this razor-close race has yet to be determined.

In fact, also present Monday was 112th District state Rep. Tory Arnberger (attending on behalf of the Gov. Jeff Colyer campaign) and Ellinwood resident Barry Borror (attending for the Republican gubernatorial primary challenger Kris Kobach campaign). They sat in as poll agents for the respective candidates.

“I was glad to see people come over,” Zimmerman said, adding it is healthy for the public to be involved.

In the canvass

The commissioners sat huddled around a table in a back room of Zimmerman’s second-floor courthouse office. They removed each ballot from sealed yellow envelopes and examined them one at a time.

As they pored over the votes, Zimmerman and Voter Registration Clerk Darin DeWitt explained the process. In the room as well were other county officials and R.L. Engle (a write-in candidate for the Great Bend II Township clerk’s position).

There were 33 ballots the commissioners contended with Monday. That included 28 provisional ballots and five had been received in the mail after last Tuesday, but by the deadline.

A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility. This can involve party affiliation, registration, place of residence and other factors.

After the commissioners were done, it was determined that five of the new ballots could not be counted. Among the reasons for not counting the votes were the voters not being registered. 

Three were considered “partial” ballots. In other words, the voter voted in the wrong precinct and election officials could only consider the votes that applied to the voter’s correct precinct.

So, in the final accounting, Colyer’s total went from 1,455 to 1,464 (a gain of nine votes). Kobach’s total went from 1,654 to 1,660 (a gain of six votes).

“Every vote counts,” the election officer said.

But, the primary is still not over, Zimmerman said. The same process has or will take place in all Kansas counties as commissions conduct their canvasses.

The Kansas Attorney General has advised election officers to preserve all election records, and be able to account for maintenance and chain of custody of the ballots until further notice. 

What comes next

After the commissioners were finished, Zimmerman fed the previously uncounted ballots into a counter which save them digitally and printed a finalized list results. Then, the commission signed off on the revised totals.

But, now Zimmerman said there is no rest for her staff as they start preparing for the Nov. 6 general election. “We don’t get much down time,” she said.

Sadly, she said the voter turn out was just under 25 percent, and that is a concern. Also, her office had the most trouble ever trying to find enough poll workers to man the voting stations.

Come the general election, she said they will be consolidating voting sites. Those changes will be announced later.

I really do think the system works here, I really think it does.
Barton County Election Officer Donna Zimmerman