Margin in Kobach-Colyer race changes as counties count mail-in ballots

photo by: Associated Press

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach are pictured in this file photo from June 23, 2018, in Salina, Kan. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Story updated at 6:13 p.m. Aug. 10, 2018:

TOPEKA — The razor-thin margin in the Republican primary for governor in Kansas continued to change throughout the day Friday as several counties, including Douglas County, tallied up mail-in ballots that have come in since Tuesday.

As of 6:10 p.m., with all 105 counties reporting their mail-in ballots, Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s lead over incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer sat at 110 votes, out of more than 313,000 votes cast, a margin of 0.04 percent, according to unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

That total included changes in Douglas County’s total. After counting late-arriving mail-in ballots, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said that Colyer gained an additional 22 votes and Kobach gained an additional 13, for a net gain of nine votes in Colyer’s favor.

The final results won’t be known until late next week, after all 105 counties complete their official canvasses.

Figuring out which votes ought to be counted became an issue on Friday.

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Under a new state law passed in 2017, counties are allowed to count mail-in ballots as late as Friday, as long as they are postmarked before polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Shew said the instructions his office received said the secretary of state’s office recommends not counting late-arriving mail-in ballots if there is no clear indicator on the envelopes that they were actually sent before polls closed on Tuesday.

But Shew said that after consulting with the county attorney’s office, he has decided to present any ballots that fit into that category to the county commissioners when they meet as the county Board of Canvassers next Thursday for them to decide what to do. The Board of Canvassers is responsible for certifying the Douglas County election results.

That board will also decide what to do with an estimated 500 provisional ballots that still have not been counted. Those are typically ballots cast by people who were not listed on the voter registration rolls, had moved since they registered, showed up at the wrong polling place, or had some other issue that raised questions about their qualifications to vote.

Shew previously has said about 80 to 85 percent of those ballots typically get counted.

“Provisional ballots are usually cast because of a change of address,” Shew said earlier this week. “If the voter can show that, the ballots will get counted.”

Counties across the state have provisional ballots, meaning there are likely thousands of ballots that still must be decided on by canvassing boards in each county.

On Friday, Colyer’s campaign said it intends to have an observer at each of the 105 county canvasses that take place next week.

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