Johnson County Election Office prepares for in-person voting with PPE, hand sanitizer, disposable pens

High-touch point cleaning will occur throughout the day during early voting periods and on election day. “We're just encouraging voters to not touch the screens or the equipment unless they absolutely have to," said Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt. Photo credit Kansas News Service.

On Election Day — Aug. 4 for the primaries and Nov. 3 for the general — in-person voting will look different, Schmidt said. All 170 polling places will be open, but social distancing will play a factor in ballot-casting.

Poll workers — who are currently going through small-group election training — will be given personal protective equipment kits that includes masks, face shields and gloves. Additionally, hand sanitizer will be available at several points, Schmidt said.

Voters will be given the option to choose a paper or digital ballot. No matter which they decide, they will be given a double-ended writing utensil that has a pen on one end and a stylus on the other. The ink pen will be used for those who fill out paper ballots and the stylus end will be used to sign in and vote on the touchscreen.

“They are non-reusable. [Voters] will get one when they enter the polling place, and leave with it,” Schmidt said. “We’re just encouraging voters to not touch the screens or the equipment unless they absolutely have to.”

High-touch point cleaning will occur throughout the day during early voting periods and on election day.

ADVANCE VOTING

To encourage residents to vote by mail in the upcoming elections, the Johnson County Elections Office sent out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in the jurisdiction. This is the first time the office has ever done that, Schmidt said.

So far, 80,000 mail-in ballot applications have been received by the office, a record-breaking amount, Schmidt said.

In 2018, about 37,000 people voted early — either by mail or at an early polling place.

People interested in voting by mail must complete a new application for each election — unless they have a disability or illness that qualifies them for permanent advance voting status. However, the advance ballot applications sent out by the elections office have the paperwork necessary to submit an application for both the August and November elections.

To vote by mail in the Aug. 4 primary election, applications have to be received by the election office by 5 p.m. on July 28. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters who requested them 20 days prior to the election.

To vote early in person, visit the Johnson County elections website to see early polling locations in each city and their hours of operation.