First weekend of in-person early voting in JoCo sees crowds, long lines at polling places

The Johnson County Election Office recorded 7,860 total voters Saturday. Above, voters lined up to cast their ballot at Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center at 87th and Metcalf. Photo credit Sam Zeff.

Voting in JoCo FAQ

Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt answers the Post’s questions about the voting process this year. Watch the full interview and read the highlights. 

Update: Johnson County election officials said more than 18,000 Johnson County voters cast advance ballots in person on Monday. That follows more than 7,500 in-person ballots cast on Saturday, the first day of advance voting. In addition, between Saturday and Monday, more than 20,000 mail-in ballots were collected from secure drop boxes across the county. 

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Nearly 8,000 Johnson County residents showed up to vote in person Saturday, the first day voters could cast advanced ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. Residents who turned out to vote at one of 10 early voting locations around the county were, at times, met with long lines, some of which backed up into parking lots.

Michaelette Sanders from Overland Park was in line for an hour at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center before she even got to the front door. Sanders said she was worried about using a mail-in ballot because of potential delays in delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.

“Got here early, about 15 minutes, leaving my house thinking there might be a little line and then I got here and it was crazy,” Sanders said.

Still, interim Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt said the average wait time for voters on Saturday was less than 30 minutes.

The Johnson County Election Office is offering advance voting at ten locations to more effectively process the expected record voter turnout, while supporting social distancing efforts amid COVID-19. County election officials say some 150,000 mail-in ballots were also requested, a record. Those ballots were mailed out last week.

No let up Monday

A line of cars waits for early voting Monday, Oct. 19, outside the Johnson County Election Office in Olathe. Photo credit Roxie Hammill.

After being closed Sunday, the county’s 10 advanced in-person polling sites were open again Monday, starting at 10 a.m. and were set to stay open until 7 p.m.

Multiple Post readers reported more long lines and waits at polling places Monday. A line of cars could be seen outside the county election office in Olathe. That was one of three sites — along with the Arts and Heritage Center on Metcalf and Hilltop Conference Center on West 143rd Street — that Schmidt noted on Monday as being the busiest early voting sites so far.

She said other sites, including Olathe Indian Creek Library, the Overland Park Convention Center and Johnson County Northeast Office, were all reporting shorter lines.

Schmidt said as of Monday, the county had also processed more than 20,000 mail-in ballots collected at eight ballot drop boxes spread out throughout the county.

If you requested mail-in ballot, election officials urge you to vote that ballot

Schmidt said her office recorded 7,860 total voters Saturday with 1,058 of those provisional ballots.

More than 94% of those provisional ballots were cast because of voters who showed up for in-person voting after requesting a mail-in ballot. Provisional ballots are not counted until after Election Day, and will be released in the final official total after the Board of County Canvassers meeting on Nov. 12.

That continued on Monday with Schmidt tweeting that another 333 voters had to cast provisional ballots Monday at in-person polling locations because they had already requested mail-in ballots.

Schmidt said that 99% of residents who requested mail ballots should have received them by now and encouraged voters who requested a mail-in ballot to vote that ballot and bring it to one of the Election Office’s eight drop boxes. The boxes are available to voters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots are counted as they are returned and will be among the first wave of results released on Election Night, Schmidt told the Post in an interview on Facebook earlier this month.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt urged residents who requested mail ballots to vote those ballots and return them to one of the county’s eight drop boxes. More than 94% of the provisional ballots from Saturday occurred because of voters who showed up for in-person voting after requesting a mail-in ballot.

Voters will be contacted to resolve any problems that could result in a ballot being rejected, such as if a signature is challenged, Schmidt said.

Decisions on whether signatures match is up to the Advance Election Board. Mail-in ballots will not be rejected, she said, if a voter forgot to date the ballot, or if the privacy flap was accidentally torn off.