Ballots to approve bond issue, LOB level begin arriving in Shawnee Mission mailboxes

Ballots began arriving in the mail on Wednesday.
Ballots began arriving in the mail on Wednesday.

Ballots began arriving in the mailboxes of some Shawnee Mission School District voters Wednesday, marking the start of a vote to approve a $223 million bond issue and keep the district’s local option budget at its maximum 33 percent level. The remaining ballots should be delivered to homes in the district today or tomorrow.

The ballots are due back in the Johnson County Election Office by noon on Jan. 27. They should be mailed back in time to make the deadline, but also can be hand delivered to the office in Olathe before the deadline.

In Shawnee Mission, 139,214 ballots were sent out to active voters – those registered voters who have not moved from their registered address. But the Shawnee Mission vote is not all the election office will be contending with this month: voters in four other Johnson County school districts are being asked to approve the LOB levels by mail-in vote. That means more than 300,000 ballots are in the mail this week.

The election office expects a 50 percent return rate on the ballots, or about 165,000 to be received before the deadline, making it the largest mail ballot the office has handled. The previous record was 110,000 ballots sent out in an Overland Park election.

While ballots will be processed as they arrive, the election office is not allowed to release results until after the Jan. 27 deadline. If the ballots are returned in a steady stream, results could be posted that day. But if a rush arrives on the last day, unofficial results could be delayed by a few days. The office has 50 people coming in to work the ballot processing.

The election office has posted a primer on how to make sure the ballot is counted by signing the back of the envelope. The election office must verify the signatures (which are covered by a flap before mailing) on the outside of the envelope before they can be opened and the vote recorded. The ballots must be returned in the official envelope. If that envelope is lost or destroyed, a voter can request a new ballot.