By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
FAIRWAY – As many as 315 voters at one Topeka polling site may have been given the wrong ballot, throwing into question the results for one Kansas House race, Shawnee County election officials said.
The incident is the most serious glitch reported so far in statewide primary election voting Tuesday, the first test of a new requirement for Kansas voters to show photo identification at the polls.
Voters received wrong precinct ballots in contests for Republican nominations to two Kansas House districts and precinct worker positions, Elizabeth Ensley Deiter, the county’s election commissioner, said Thursday.
Three of those races were either uncontested or decided by more than a 315-vote margin. But in the three-way Republican race to respresent Kansas House District 52, just 41 votes separate the two leading contenders, Shanti Gandhi and Dick Jones, according to unofficial results posted so far.
The Shawnee County election Board of Canvassers is scheduled to meet Monday to decide what to do about the ballot error, which led to the firing of the supervising judge, Deiter said.
A voter at a polling station in the Light of the World Christian Church in southwest Topeka lodged a complaint Tuesday about the ballots. Ensley Deiter and other election officers found the judge, who was in charge of balloting for two different precincts held at the church, had failed to follow election board rules for matching voters with their correct blank ballots and, subsequently, had given wrong ballots to an unknown number of voters.
“She didn’t get it,” Ensley Deiter said of the judge, whose name was not disclosed. “We don’t know why.”
Another worker was appointed supervising judge. The poll workers receive about $100 for what often is a 14-hour day.
No ID problems were reported during balloting, even though 392,000 voters, nearly 23 percent of the electorate, cast ballots, said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the state’s chief elections officer.
Aside from the contretemps in Topeka, nothing has been reported beyond typical and occasional human errors, said Kay Curtis, the secretary of state’s communications director.
Shawnee County Commissioners Shelly Buhler, Mary M.Thomas and Ted Ensley, who also are the county’s canvassing board, will determine what to do about that race when they formally certify all the county’s election results, Ensley Deiter said.
“They are the ones who have to make it right,” she said.
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