How to make sure your 2020 vote counts in Sedgwick County

Sedgwick County mailed thousands of ballots Wednesday in advance of the November election, and the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office has a tool that will let voters track where their ballots are and whether they have been delivered safely back into the hands of the election commissioner.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sedgwick County election office had received requests from 87,718 registered voters for mail-in ballots. More registered Democrats requested advance ballots than Republicans, by a count of 37,396 to 35,084. Libertarians requested 542 ballots and unaffiliated voters requested 14,696 ballots.

The deadline to apply for an advance ballot is Oct. 27.

A new state website will allow anyone who requested a mail-in ballot this fall to track its progress online from the moment the application is approved until the ballot arrives back at the local election office.

It’s one tool the state is using to safeguard an election rife with disinformation and uncertainty as many plan to vote by mail for the first time to avoid the coronavirus.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day Nov. 3 and received by the election office by Nov. 6.

Those casting advance ballots through the mail should follow all instructions included in the packet provided by the election office. The most common mistakes are voters not signing the outside of their envelopes or ballots not being turned in by the deadline.

Kansas is a voter intent state, meaning if you make a mistake on your advance ballot, you may correct it in writing on the ballot with an explanation that shows what you meant to do. Those ballots will be counted by hand and will be up to interpretation of the board of canvassers, which is the Sedgwick County commissioners or their delegates.

In the August primary, 254 ballots in Sedgwick County were tossed because of signature problems.

Another 203 votes didn’t count because they arrived late.

Ten were thrown away for using the wrong return envelope. Another 17 didn’t provide an ID. 205 would-be voters weren’t registered.

Voters can track their advance ballots at myvoteinfo.voteks.org. You can also pull up a sample ballot and check your voting history at the same state website. You can also create a sample ballot and check a candidate’s stance on issues with The Eagle’s interactive voter guide at Kansas.com.

Mail-in ballots may be returned in-person to the Sedgwick County election office or hand-delivered to any of the secure ballot drop boxes sprinkled throughout the county. Ballots can also be sent through the mail.

Although most domestic election mail is delivered in 2-5 days, the United States Postal Service recommends mailing your ballot at least one week before the deadline.

That means domestic voters should apply for advance mail-in ballots no later than Oct. 20 and send completed ballots no later than Oct. 27.

If you receive a ballot through the mail, but decide later to vote in-person instead, you may be forced to fill-out a provisional ballot, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said.

“So if you requested a ballot by mail, it’s best to vote that ballot,” she said.

To avoid crowds that could spread the coronavirus, the Sedgwick County Election Office has purchased 14 ballot drop boxes with CARES Act funding passed through the Secretary of State’s Office. Mail-in ballots may be dropped in those boxes until 7 p.m. on Election Day, when the polls close.

The drop boxes are available at several outdoor locations throughout the county:

Wichita

Boston Recreation Center, 6655 E. Zimmerly

Evergreen Park Recreation Center, 2700 N. Woodland

Linwood Recreation Center, 1901 S. Kansas

Orchard Recreation Center, 4808 W. Ninth St.

Sedgwick County Courthouse, 525 N. Main

Sedgwick County Health Department, 1900 E. Ninth St.

Bel Aire

Bel Aire City Hall, 7651 E. Central Park

Haysville

Haysville Police Department – Court Services, 200 W. Grand

Valley Center

Valley Center City Hall, 121 S. Meridian

Clearwater

Clearwater City Hall, 129 E. Ross

Maize

Maize City Administration, 10100 W. Grady

Derby

Derby Public Library, 1600 E. Walnut Grove Road

Goddard

Fire Station 35, 1535 S. 199th St. West

Park City

Fire Station 32, 7750 Wild West Road

Early voting starts next week

Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 19, at the Sedgwick County Election Office and Intrust Bank Arena.

The week before the election, several other sites throughout the county will open for in-person early voting. Any Sedgwick County voter can vote at any Sedgwick County early voting site. Voters must bring an acceptable form of photo ID.

Wichita

Sedgwick County Election Office, 510 N. Main, Suite 101

Opens Monday at 8 a.m.

Remains open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday and closes at noon, Nov. 2.

It’s also open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 31.

Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman

Opens Monday at 10 a.m.

Remains open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Friday for the next two weeks, except Wednesdays when the arena closes at 5 p.m.

It’s also open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 31.

Free parking is available north of the arena.

Other early voting sites open Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Satellite early voting poll sites open at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, and remain open until at least 5 p.m. the rest of the week. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, polls stay open 7 p.m. They are also open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 31.

Grace Presbyterian Church, 5002 E. Douglas

Machinists Building, 3830 S. Meridian

Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 2727 E. 25th St. North

Reformation Lutheran, 7601 E. 13th St.

Sedgwick County Extension Office, 7001 W. 21st St.

SEIU Building, 3340 W. Douglas

Sharon Baptist Church, 2221 S. Oliver

St. Andrew’s Lutheran, 2555 Hyacinth Lane

Westlink Church of Christ, 10025 W. Central

Woodland Lakes Community Church, 770 S. Greenwich Road

Bel Aire

Bel Aire City Building, 7651 E. Central Park

Derby

Woodlawn Methodist Church, 431 S. Woodlawn Blvd.

Goddard

Goddard District Conference Center, 315 S. Main

Haysville

Haysville Community Library, 210 Hays Ave.

Park City

Park City City Hall, 1941 E. 61st St. North

Valley Center

Valley Center Community Center, 314 Clay

Chance Swaim, a George Polk Award winning investigative reporter, has been with The Eagle since 2018. You may contact him at 316-269-6752 and [email protected]

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