Election officer faces cancer diagnosis, help needed at polling sites

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 11:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - What should’ve been a normal election year, has been turned upside down for Sedgwick County Election Officer, Tabitha Lehman.

She says, the Pandemic has brought up problems no one could have prepared for but she also recently found out she has an aggressive form of Lymphoma, cancer that presented to Lehman as dental issues.

"It felt like I had a sunburn on my chin when I hadn't been outside and it was very strange but because it presented so oddly It took us a while to get to that to that diagnosis and so certainly if, if I can help raise awareness and have other people be careful and make sure they're going if they have concerns getting it checked out by their doctor," Lehman said.

With her diagnosis and the pandemic, Lehman won’t be out in the community recruiting workers and registering people to vote.

"I might have taken a risk and gone and done I can't do I can't, you know, because my husband keeps reminding me that he has a vested interest in me surviving so I don't get to make these decisions by myself," Lehman said.

She shared her diagnosis to the public on Facebook yesterday letting people know she was okay but needed one thing from her community, polling workers.

"I'm going to get a little choked up but yeah it's definitely what we need right now is for people to step up and work those polls so that we can make sure that you can vote because I may be going through cancer but I am still the Election Commissioner and I have to make sure this happens," Lehman said.

The goal for her office is to not have to close any polling locations and from her Facebook post she says:

“Nine of our polling places currently do not have the legally required positions filled to open. 63 out of 84 polling places have at least one open position. Many of them have 3 or more positions open with one needing 7 workers right now. We currently need over 170 poll workers for August 4th.”

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was one of many to share Lehman’s post and told Eyewitness News she is a key player with elections in Sedgwick County.

"After reading her post, I wanted to make sure that others had an opportunity to step up and help out, and also kind of take this off her plate a little bit. She's battling cancer and, you know, we need to do what we can to help our neighbors, in their time of need and this is her time of need," Whipple said.

Lehman says while voting and poll locations may look a little different this year with PPE and plexiglass barriers, it's her job to make sure the people of Sedgwick County voices are heard.

"Also, lots of hand sanitizer will be used, cleaning supplies. And so we just, we really need people to step up and help us out so that we can make sure we serve our voters," said Lehman.

Lehman adds, if you requested a ballot by mail and County workers have reached out to you with a problem with your application, please respond so the county can fix any issues and get you a corrected ballot.

The voter registration deadline is Tuesday, July 14.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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