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Archive for Thursday, March 4, 1999

CANVASSERS TO CAST OUT ODD VOTES

March 4, 1999

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Results from Tuesday's primary elections won't be official until Friday, after the Douglas County Board of Canvassers reviews a handful of miscast, damaged or vote-heavy ballots.

For all her 18 years overseeing local elections, Patty Jaimes still follows a simple rule when it comes to advising people about voting: Follow directions.

At 9 a.m. Friday, the Douglas County Board of Canvassers will convene to review ballots from Tuesday's primary elections that didn't make the unofficial results.

The reasons for contested ballots are varied, but the result is clear, said Jaimes, Douglas County clerk. Whether it's because voters failed to register properly or voted improperly by choosing too many candidates, their individual decisions about the future of local governments may never be counted.

Canvassers will make the final decisions, but already at least 44 ballots from the Lawrence City Commission primary cannot be accepted because people voted for more than three candidates.

Again, Jaimes said, following directions helps. Each ballot cast had the words "vote for three or fewer" printed across the top.

"You get credit for voting, but your ballot doesn't count," Jaimes said. "Undervoting's OK. You can vote for three or fewer. But overvoting, we can't determine the intent of the voter."

The board of canvassers -- whose members actually are the three Douglas County commissioners -- will review the ballots at the county courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts.

The board's decisions come in several categories:

  • Provisional ballots. Voters cast 65 such ballots, which then are sealed and opened during the canvass. The ballots come from voters who previously weren't registered, had moved since the last election or voted in races for which they were ineligible to vote. Two rural residents, for example, cast ballots for Lawrence City Commission.
  • Overvoting. In Lawrence, the 44 ballots with too many candidates chosen were set aside and unofficially disqualified Tuesday night. In Eudora, seven ballots had overvoting in the city council race (more than three candidates chosen) but complied with the limit of four candidates for the school board race.
  • Damaged ballots. Counting machines ate two ballots Tuesday night, forcing them to be counted by hand. Those results should be added to the Lawrence City Commission primary results, Jaimes said.

Once the canvass is complete, she said, election officials can focus on preparations for the April 6 general election.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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