Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Write-in votes test canvassers

April 12, 2007

Computerized voting machines have made most official vote canvassing fairly straightforward in Leavenworth County, said County Clerk Linda Scheer, the top election officer in the county.

But that wasn't the case last week when county commissioners looked at write-in votes involving Easton and Linwood races.

Commissioners, serving as the Board of Canvassers, verified results from the April 3 election on Friday.

In the Linwood City Council race, where four candidates vied for two seats, one write-in candidate, Leanne Matthews, received 34 official votes of the 40 total write-in ballots compared to 37 votes for Jay Barnard, one of the winning candidates. The board only certified ballots that had the name Matthews tied to them, including Leanne Smith-Matthews and Leanne Matthews-Smith, and did not count three ballots that read Leanne Smith or Leanne Williams. Smith is Williams' maiden name.

"If the ballot contained Leanne Matthews or Matthews-Smith you had the feeling that the person was one in the same," 3rd District Commissioner Dean Oroke said. "But with any other name, it was harder to tell."

There was similar confusion in the Easton City Council race, where five seats were available, but only three candidates filed.

The two write-in candidates that won seats were Bobby Watkins Jr. and Wayne Russell, who each received eight of the 47 write-in votes. The board counted three write-ins for Russell under the names Tony Wayne Russell and Tony Russell.

There were also some write-in and provisional ballots that the board had to determine whether to count. A provisional ballot, or a ballot taken from someone who had moved or could not be identified as registered voter, could only be accepted if the voter went to the correct precinct and had been previously registered.

"A few provisional ballots were not counted because the voter hadn't been registered previously," Scheer said.

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