A Senate committee reflecting on the increase in advance ballot popularity considered amending an elections law Wednesday to allow voters time to correct signature errors on advance ballots before the final canvass.
Sedgwick County election commissioner Tabitha Lehman said she has concerns with timing in the proposed legislation.
“Our concern is that this does not allow sufficient time for our office to reach out to voters whose ballots arrive the day before or on Election Day,” Lehman said.
Members of the Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee discussed efficient ways to make contact with voters who have an error with a signature on an advance ballot. Local canvassing boards may reject ballots if the signature doesn't appear to match the signature with the voter's registration file.
Voting rights advocates say the practice is unfair because ballots are handled differently in different counties and poll workers aren't qualified in handwriting analysis.
Senate Bill 130 would require county election officers to make contact with individuals whose ballots are in jeopardy. Costs for this initiative would vary county by county depending on the size and number of advance ballots.
Lehman suggested changing the wording of the bill to require county election officers to attempt contact.
“Multiple election officials in the state have expressed concern that the language as written could open election officials up to litigation if someone does not receive the notice that we sent,” Lehman said.
Harvey County Clerk Rick Piepho said the bill allows people to fix signature deficiencies even after the polls close.
“We believe this bill adequately addresses our concerns regarding the opportunity for voters to correct advance ballot signature deficiencies prior to the time of canvassing,” Piepho said.