Questions about write-in ballots overwhelm elections office

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"We've gotten a lot of questions about how to do a write-in," said Tabitha Lehman, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner.

The Sedgwick County Elections Office is bracing for a wave of write-in questions this week with at least three declared write-in candidates in just one race.

Early voting in the county wraps up at noon Monday at the downtown election office and then picks up again early Tuesday morning at your regularly assigned polling locations.  But the office has already fielded so many questions about write-in candidates they shot a video to help you figure it all out.

"I still think it's worth trying," said Ruth Cook, who cast a write-in ballot last week during early voting.  "I think we just need to be very cautious and do our homework and know what we're doing."

Cook was one of dozens of Wichitans who added a write-in vote to their ballot.  But a lot of voters weren't quite sure how to go about it.

"We were being overrun with calls asking how to do it," Lehman said.  "Calls and emails from people requesting, how do I do this? How do I do this?"

They got so many questions, the Sedgwick County Elections office shot an explainer video.  

Electronically, it's easy enough to cast a write-in vote, just click the oval next to where it says write-in candidate and then use the pop-up keyboard to type in the name.

Lehman says she expects to see a lot of write-ins this year with  at least three former mayoral candidates who lost the primary - Lyndy Wells, Marty Mork and Mark Gietzen - having notified her office they're actively running as write-in candidates.  At minimum this could slow results on election night.

"The more write-ins that are on the voting machines, the longer it takes the voting machines to close down and save the results," Lehman said.

Even then, all we'll know is how many people wrote-in a candidate, not how many votes any one write-in candidate got. 

"We have to go through and look at them," Lehman said.  In other words, they'll count them all by hand.  "A bipartisan board has to look at them one write-in at a time and determine who that vote was for."

So, if there are enough write-in votes to put into question the overall results on Tuesday night, we might not know the winner for another ten days, when the final totals are announced at the official certification canvas.

Ruth Cook says the more people who vote, write-in or not, the better.

"Whoever you vote for just vote," she said.  "Ten percent (turnout) is not acceptable in a city the size of Wichita."

Lehman says they're also getting questions about the constitutional amendment on the ballot we first told you about in September.  It's three pages long!  Remember, at the polls, workers can only read to you what's already on the ballot, they cannot answer your questions.

"Also be aware that you are not required to vote for every single thing on your ballot," Lehman adds, answering another common question her office gets.  "So if you want to leave something blank, you can do that as well."

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to


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