Douglas County clerk planning for recount in GOP gubernatorial primary; here’s how it would work

photo by: Ashley Hocking

Ballots are stacked at the Douglas County Courthouse on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew expects to be working Saturday recounting about 8,600 county ballots cast in the Aug. 7 Republican primary for governor.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach held a 110-vote lead over Gov. Jeff Colyer after the state’s 105 counties finished counting late arriving advance ballots on Friday. The two men are vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination for the November general election.

The narrow margin separating the two will change as provisional ballots are counted this week. The Douglas County Clerk’s Office will count provisional ballots from the primary when Douglas County commissioners canvass the election results on Thursday. Shew said last week that he did not know how the 500 or so provisional ballots cast Aug. 7 broke down by party affiliation. Voters are given provisional ballots at polls in cases where they may not have had proper ID, had a discrepancy with an address or other such issues.

Colyer and Kobach will have until Friday to request a recount, Shew said.

“We will have five days to complete the recount,” he said. “If there’s a recount, we’ll probably start on Saturday.”

The candidate requesting a recount can ask that it be done by hand or by machine, Shew said. The hand count would be more expensive because it would take longer and would require the clerk’s office to hire more poll workers to help with the process.

Shew said that on Tuesday he would send the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office the county’s cost to conduct a recount by hand and by machine. Those cost figures and those of other counties in the state would determine how much bond a candidate would have to post when requesting a recount, he said.

If the recount confirms the existing results, the Douglas County Clerk’s Office will be reimbursed for the cost of recounting the ballots from the posted bond, Shew said. If the recount overturns the existing statewide result, the clerk’s office will be responsible for the recount’s cost even if there is no change in the local results, he said.

There could be a recount that doesn’t involve Douglas County, because a candidate could request that the recount be done in specific counties, Shew said. Any recount in Douglas County wouldn’t be about overturning the result in the county, which Colyer won by a margin of about 1,800 votes, but about picking up a few votes in the tight statewide race.

Shew’s top-of-the-head estimate was that a machine recount would cost about $2,000, but he said it would take him longer to develop the cost of a hand count because that is something the clerk’s office no longer does, Shew said.

In fact, the whole recount process is new to the office.

“In my 14 years in office, we have never had a recount,” he said. “We’ve had some close elections, but the candidates chose not to request a recount.”


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