Johnson County will accept nearly 1,500 provisional ballots either in full or in part, including dozens cast by unaffiliated voters who were incorrectly told by poll workers to cast provisional ballots.
The ballots could tip the balance in the GOP primary for governor. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer were separated by a mere 110 votes going into Monday.
The Johnson County Board of Canvassers voted unanimously Monday to fully accept 1,176 ballots based on the recommendation of the county’s election commissioner, Ronnie Metsker.
This included 57 ballots from unaffiliated voters who were incorrectly told on Election Day to cast provisional ballots. Kansas law restricts voters from switching parties on Election Day, but unaffiliated voters are allowed to declare a party at the polls….
correctly instructed to vote provisionally instead of declaring a party and casting a normal ballot.
Metsker said this happened in Johnson County.
“We had one (polling) location where that happened,” Metsker said. “These are citizens. We train them. We train them hard. There were a number of problems at that location.”
The unaffiliated voters were part of a larger group of 264 voters in Johnson County who were incorrectly told by poll workers to cast provisional ballots. All of those votes will count, Metsker said.
The county’s decision to count the unaffiliated voters would seem to put the county at odds with a news release from Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, the deputy whom Kobach has tapped to oversee the counting process in the closest primary race for governor in the state’s history.
Rucker said in an email late Sunday that “there has been considerable public discussion regarding whether unaffiliated voters can participate in Kansas party primary elections.”
He then attached a series of legal instructions including that “if an unaffiliated voter does not complete a party affiliation document, that voter is not entitled to vote at a party primary election.”
This is an issue that could easily end up in court if it makes a difference in the outcome.