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Can I take back my vote? Some Sedgwick County voters want to know

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 6:03 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A lot of questions coming into the KWCH newsroom concerning allegations against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell. His fellow commissioners officially asked him to resign on Wednesday (10/28), but O’Donnell’s also up for re-election and some voters in his district want to know if they can change their vote.

Can you change your vote once the ballot has been cast? The answer is no. If you’re a Sedgwick County voter and you’ve already cast your ballot, your vote will be counted as is. There is no changing it. The question comes following the release of a secretly recorded meeting between Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, Wichita City Council member James Clendenin and State Representative Michael Capps. In the recording, the men are heard conspiring to pass blame for a false attack ad aimed at Mayor Brandon Whipple.

The questions we’re getting about changing a vote have come primarily from voters who say they’re in Michael O’Donnell’s district and cast their ballots before the recording was made public. Now they want to change their vote, and we’re not the only ones getting that question. Sedgwick County election officials tell us they’re taking calls, emails, even text messages asking the same thing. So, what now?

If Michael O’Donnell wins the election to retain his seat on the county commission, voters do still have a say if they don’t want him to serve. Namely, a recall election. Kansas law says voters can request a recall election, but not until the elected official has served at least 120 days of the new term. At that point, a petition process can begin in the district where that elected official serves. If enough valid signatures are collected, the petition then has to be certified and a recall election can get underway.

Voters can request a recall of an elected official, but it takes time.
Voters can request a recall of an elected official, but it takes time.(Alex Flippin)

City Council member James Clendenin has also been asked to resign. Voters have the same recall option in that case, but don’t have to wait the extra 120 days because he’s already in office. Michael Capps already lost his bid for re-election in August.

District Attorney Marc Bennett’s office is investigating the actions taken by Clendenin, O’Donnell and Capps, each of whom could be removed from office by ouster if the DA finds sufficient grounds.

Finally, if you filled out a mail-in ballot, but haven’t submitted it, you can opt to trash that ballot, go to your polling place and fill out a provisional ballot, but only if you never submitted that mail-in ballot. Otherwise you’d be voting twice and that is illegal. You can also request a replacement ballot, but the Secretary of State’s office recommends doing so in person so you’re sure to get your ballot by Election Day.

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