By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT
With a record number of voters set to cast their November ballot by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, voters in Ellis County have two more locations they can drop off ballots.
Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus said two ballot boxes — paid for by federal funds through the Kansas Secretary of State’s office — were installed last week in front of the Ellis and Victoria city clerks' offices.
“Anybody can drop their ballots in there for Ellis County,” Maskus said. “We will have designated people that will be picking those (ballots) up periodically.”
Voters in Hays can also drop their ballot off at the drop box south of the County Administrative Building at 718 Main.
The clerk’s office began mailing advanced ballots that had been requested on Wednesday, and Maskus said they had received nearly 3,800 requests for mail-in ballots as of this week.
According to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, more than 463,000 advanced mailing ballots have been mailed in the state of Kansas.
Maskus said those voters who receive a mail-in ballot can also drop their ballot at any of nine polling locations on Election Day, the administrative center until 7 p.m. on Election Day, or return via mail.
Maskus stressed that if a voter does mail the ballot back, they must fill it out and then attach the required postage.
“As long as that ballot is postmarked Election Day or prior, it can arrive up to our office until that following Friday of election week and we will count it,” said Maskus. “After that, it won’t even be opened or counted.”
The deadline to request an advance ballot is Oct. 27.
Maskus also reminded voters to sign the ballot envelope before returning it. The clerk’s office will verify the signature on the ballot but it is not counted until Election Day.
Advance voting will begin Monday at the administrative center. Advance voting is open until noon Nov. 2. Election day is Nov. 3.
Voters who choose to vote in person — advanced or on Election Day — will see the same kind of precaution taken as they did for the August primary.
Maskus said her office has added another person at each polling location whose job will be to sanitize any areas voters might touch. Voters will also be given a pen to fill out the ballot, which they will be allowed to keep. There will also be glass dividers in place again at each location.
"Of course, we want to election board workers, the voters (and) my staff, we want to keep everybody safe and healthy,” Maskus said.
She also reminded voters who vote in person to bring their ID to the polls.
The election canvass is scheduled for Nov. 16 — the final day that a canvass can be held.
County Commission Chairman Butch Schyler said the canvass will be held after the regularly scheduled commission meeting that night, and the election will be certified that night.
“Regardless if there are any controversies,” Schlyer said. “We will certify it if it takes it all night.”
The board of election canvassers delayed its final vote on the canvass following the primary election after Hays attorney John Bird, on behalf of the Ellis County Democratic Party, raised concerns.
In 2018, the race for the 111th Kansas House came down to a recount between Republican Barb Wasinger and Democrat Eber Phelps. Wasinger defeated Phelps by 35 votes.
Maskus urged voters with questions to check out the elections tab under Ellisco.net or by calling the clerk’s office.