TOPEKA, Kan. • The counting of the last ballots in the tight and contentious Republican primary for Kansas governor will stretch out over the next week and still might not settle the race.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach leads Gov. Jeff Colyer by 110 votes out of 313,000-plus cast after late mail-in ballots from all 105 counties were added Friday to totals from advance voting and ballots cast at the polls Tuesday. The state’s 105 counties still must review nearly 9,000 provisional ballots and determine how many of them were cast in the Republican primary — and how many will be counted. They have until Aug. 20 to finish that process and certify their local results.
A look at the process:
• The Legislature last year changed the state’s law on mail-in ballots so that they were to be counted if they were postmarked Tuesday, the day of the primary, and arrived by Friday. Previously, they had to arrive by Election Day.
• While Kobach’s office provides guidance on the handling of ballots and supervises the counting, the work is done by the counties.
Each county’s chief elections officer appoints a bipartisan board of election workers to handle ballots.
The secretary of state appoints an election commissioner in the state’s four most populous counties, Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte, and the chief elections officers in the other 101 are elected clerks.
The county elections chiefs present their workers’ recommendations on whether provisional ballots should be counted to the county commission, which then decides and certifies the final results.
• Voters receive provisional ballots at the polls when election workers are not sure they are eligible to vote at that location, or at all. Those ballots are sealed in envelopes and set aside to be reviewed later, with notes about the issues involved.
The eligibility of the voters is determined before workers unseal the ballots.
• Counties can begin their canvassing Monday. Six counties have set it for Aug. 20, the deadline to finish.
• Under a Kansas law specific to statewide races, a candidate must ask for a recount by 5 p.m. Friday. State law has no provision for an automatic recount.
A candidate can ask for a recount no matter how large the margin, but he or she must put up funds to cover the full cost of the recount.
A recount must start the day after the candidate requests one, even if the work would start on a Saturday. Counties involved have five days to finish, meaning all of it would be done by Aug. 22 at the latest.