Vote Anywhere Act won't be in use until 2020 Election, at the earliest

Posted: Updated:

With the general election just three weeks away, the Kansas Secretary of State is in Wichita talking about election security.

Scott Schwab is meeting with the Sedgwick County Commission on how to put the new Vote Anywhere Act into effect without jeopardizing your vote.

The law would allow residents to vote at any polling place in their county.  Sedgwick County Election clerk Tabitha Lehman wrote the bill and says she's ready to put it to use here.  However, she has to wait for the Secretary of State's office to set the operating rules.

Schwab says he's deliberately moving slowly to make sure his office does not miss any potential security risks.

"We don't want to take a chance of someone in a white van sitting across the street from a polling place and marking everybody in the county as voted," Schwab said. "And we have to know what the Plan B is.  So, if a cell tower goes down, how do you get those ballots?  Do you do ballot on demand?  What is the average cell outage?  We need to know that."

Part of the problem is the difference in technology and resources of the various counties.

"We want to make sure that if you're going to do this as a county, that there's not a pocket of that county that doesn't have internet via cell tower. Well, then what's your Plan B?" Schwab explained.  "Do you put it on the local church's network? Is it secure? How would other counties do it and how would they incorporate that in their plan?"

Schwab says the group working to figure out those operating rules should have a timeline for when voters can vote at any polling site after their next meeting later this month.

He added that they hope to have the Vote Anywhere option up and running in time for the 2020 election.  But he won't make any promises.

"If it's not ready for 2020, it's not ready. Our goal is to get it ready. But we're not in a hurry to make a mistake and compromise voting security. We want people to know that when they vote, their vote is absolutely counted," Schwab said.