Election officials in Sedgwick, Johnson counties detail recount process

The Johnson County Election Commissioner said they needed about 150 workers to conduct the recount which started Tuesday.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With the recount on the abortion amendment vote from the Aug. 2 Kansas primary underway or soon to begin in nine counties, Eyewitness News gained insight into how the process works. Specifically, we heard from election officials in the two largest counties among those involved in the recount: Johnson and Sedgwick counties. On Aug. 2, the amendment question failed; 59% “no” to 41% “yes.”

The Johnson County election commissioner held a news briefing Tuesday afternoon to be transparent about the recount. In Johnson County, there will be a hand count of nearly 257,000 ballots.

“Recent process is part of the Kansas election statutes. It’s put into place,” said Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman. “It’s a policy decision made by the Kansas legislature. We continue to stand by the integrity of Johnson County elections. It’s fair, accurate, safe and secure.”

The recount process starts with sorting all of the paper ballots into precincts. Then, a bipartisan team of two will sort the ballots into four categories: “Yes,” “No,” undervote (meaning nothing was selected) and overvote (meaning both “Yes” and “No’ were selected).

“Each one will count a pile, get a total, (and) write it down,” Sherman said. “Then, they’ll switch positions. The other person will count the pile and try to see if they come up with the same number. The folks that are the bipartisan team of two, they will not have the election night results by precinct, we’ve not released those numbers yet. Only the supervising judge will have the expected outcome, based on the certified results.”

In Johnson County, the recount is expected to end Friday, Aug. 19. They will then, on Saturday, report results to the county canvass board. They expect the need of 150 people to count those ballots.

“We’ve never done a recount to this scale in Johnson County that I’m aware of. So, it’s a little bit of uncharted territory for us to gauge just how quickly this is going to get done with the amount of resources we’re committing to it,” Sherman said.

The recount in Sedgwick County begins at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Sedgwick County Extension Office in northwest Wichita. The recount is open to the public, so those wishing to see the process are permitted to do so.

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Angela Caudillo said her office is working to get a group of about 200 bipartisan voters to help with the recount process. Sedgwick County will have until 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, to finish and complete the recount, including the county’s canvass.

Caudillo said she doesn’t predict any significant changes to the numbers.

“I can’t foresee anything necessarily but, again, that’s why the process exists for people who have questions and people who want to initiate the process,” she said. “They can request the recount. It’s a hand recount. It’ll be on the ballots that were voted, the actual ballots. And that’s what we’re here to do, to provide that service.”

Kansas Coalition for Life Chairman Mark Gietzen said he sees a clear need for a recount, claiming fraud and inaccuracies.

“So, what this is going to tell us is if there’s cheating in the electronic machine counting. Maybe the ‘no’ vote is the actual ‘yes’ vote. Maybe the ‘yes’ vote is the actual ‘no’ vote. I don’t know. I’m not saying that. But, that’s what the possibilities already opened up,” said Gietzen.

If you’re a registered voter in Sedgwick County and would like to help with the recount process, you can send an email to voterinformation@sedgwick.gov. You must include your party affiliation and contact information. For participating in the recount process, you can get paid $7.50 per hour.

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