Depending on where they live, Barton County residents will have one or more special election questions in November. They’ll also be voting for the first time on candidates for two positions on the Cottonwood Extension District Executive Board.
Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said the Nov. 5 general election will also be the first time for the public to use the new voting equipment.
Ballots will also include local races for city council members and mayors, school board members, and Ellinwood District Hospital board members. All county residents will be voting on Barton Community College Board of Trustees members.
Cottonwood Extension District
When Barton and Ellis counties formed the Cottonwood Extension District in 2017, each county appointed four qualified electors to the initial governing body. Two were to serve terms ending in December 2017 and two were to serve until December 2019. Starting this year, board members will be elected in general elections to four-year terms.
The upcoming election day will have candidates listed for four positions on the Cottonwood Extension District Executive Board — two in each county. Barton County voters will have Richard Dougherty and Kathie Rondeau on the ballot. In Ellis County, candidates are Tatum Kimzey and Allen Roth.
Hoisington special question
Hoisington voters will have the following special question on their ballots:
“Shall a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of one-half of one percent (0.50%) be levied in the City of Hoisington, Kansas, for the purposes of maintaining and improving public streets and infrastructure, stabilizing the property tax levy; improving, maintaining, equipping or constructing a public swimming pool and to provide the improvements necessary to enhance the public’s quality of life, to take effect October 1, 2020.”
Hoisington currently has a half-cent sales tax that is scheduled to end next September, but it will continue if the question passes.
Hoisington residents will be able to vote yes or no at the Hoisington Activity Center on election day.
Claflin special question
Claflin voters also have a sales tax question:
“Shall the City of Claflin, Kansas, levy a one-half of one percent (.5%) retailers’ sales tax to be used for the purpose of raising additional revenue to provide an adequate level of public services within the City and for the purpose of controlling the city mill levy? The one-half percent (.5%) retailers’ sales tax will sunset after ten years.”
Claflin voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2014.
Claflin residents will be able to vote yes or no at the Immaculate Conception Parish Center in Claflin on election day.
Cheyenne Township question
The Cheyenne Township Board has submitted a question asking voters to approve the purchase property in Odin:
“Shall the Cheyenne Township Board purchase lots Four (4) and Five (5) in Block 1, of Kinzel Addition No. 1, and the buildings located thereon, in the Town of Odin, Barton County, Kansas, commonly known as 1395 B. Kinzel Street, for the purchase price not to exceed fifty-two thousand dollars ($52,000.00), such land and buildings to be used to store, repair, and otherwise maintain township equipment?”
Cheyenne Township residents will be able to vote at the Immaculate Conception Parish Center in Claflin on election day.
All voters will have a question about amending the Kansas Constitution on their ballots. A majority yes vote would eliminate a provision in the Kansas Constitution requiring Kansas to adjust its census numbers for military personnel and college students when creating voting districts. A no vote would keep the provision. For more about the question, see the Oct. 6 Great Bend Tribune article, “Amendment to Kansas Constitution on ballot in November” at https://gbtribune.com/news/local-news/kansas-constitutional-amendment-november-ballot/
Changes in locations and equipment
Barton County’s new voting equipment will allow voters to use paper ballots or make their selections on a screen with an electronic pencil. Either way, there’s a paper record.
“I think paper is the way to go,” Zimmerman said. The paper ballots are fed through a scanner by the voter for tabulation at the individual precincts. The results will be captured on a flash drive and that will be hand-delivered to the courthouse on election night. Nothing is done online so the delivery of the votes cannot be tampered with by hackers, she said.
Those who opt to make their selections on the ExpressVote machine will find it is simply an electronic making device, Zimmerman said. It will produce a card that is also fed through the scanner by the voter.
“It’s easy to use,” Zimmerman said.
The number of polling locations outside of the courthouse has dropped from 23 to 11. Barton County has been consolidating its polling places from several years. There were 40 when Zimmerman started working in the county clerk’s office, and that number later dropped to 32 and has continued to get smaller.
After the last consolidation, the county ended up on an American Civil Liberties Union report that was prompted by the 2018 elections in Ford County. Dodge City had only one polling place last November, and the location of the polling site was changed from the Civic Center to the Expo Center, due to construction. ACLU reports the polling place was over a mile from any bus stop, without a sidewalk along the route and, on average, twice as far as the Civic Center from the city’s largest employers.
Starting this year, all Kansas counties will be required to do a post-election audit to make sure the voting process is done correctly and the results are accurate. This is required by legislation approved earlier this year.