Ellis County voting underway

Margaret Allen
Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus on Friday explained that each of the county's nine polling locations on Election Day -- Tuesday, Aug. 4 -- will be outfitted with one black trash can-looking DS200 ballot scanner and two Poll Pad electronic tablets for judges to scan driver's licenses and verify voters' names and addresses.

Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus on Friday set up six portable voting stations in the clerk’s office at the Ellis County Administrative Center downtown.

“Normally we would have nine,” said Maskus, “but with the spacing of the six-feet apart, we’re short three stations.”

In-person early voting for the Aug. 4 primary starts Monday in Ellis County. Registered Republican and Democrat voters can come to the clerk’s office on the first floor of the Administrative Center at 718 Main and cast their ballot.

“I would encourage people to wear a mask,” Maskus said, reminding voters they should also bring their voter identification, typically a drivers license.

Besides spacing the voting booths 6 feet apart, voters will see Xs taped on the floor to help them stand at a distance from one another.

There are more than 18,000 registered voters in the county, and Maskus said that, as of Friday, 2,499 had requested a mail ballot.

“We started mailing those on Wednesday and I was amazed that we had ballots voted that people were bringing in the next day by noon,” Maskus said. “I really want to commend the post office, because those had to go through Wichita.”

Registered voters can still call the clerk’s office to request a mail ballot. The last day for her office to mail those out is July 28, she said. A completed ballot can be dropped off at the new secured drop box on the south side of the Administrative Center, which is accessed through the one-way alley off of Main Street.

“I encourage voters if they wish to drop them in that box, to do so,” Maskus said. “We check it twice a day.”

Voters can also check the ballot tracking site https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/voterview to see if their mail ballot request has been received, if the ballot’s been mailed out to them and if their returned ballot has been received.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, which is Aug. 4, with delivery through Aug. 7.

In-person advance voting goes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting this Monday, and continues every weekday in the clerk’s office until noon Monday, Aug. 3.

Poll judges, seated behind plexiglass barriers, will check in each voter on an electronic Poll Pad tablet that scans a voter’s drivers license to verify name and address.

To eliminate each voter sharing the same voting pen, everyone is issued their own personal stylus, which is the voter’s to keep. The stylus is supplied through the Federal CARES Act through the Kansas Secretary of State and voters get one when they vote in the primary, and again in the general election.

An Advance Board of three people selected by Maskus will count the early ballots starting at 1 p.m. July 29. The board members open the ballot envelopes, respect the secrecy of each vote, drop each one into the DS200 ballot scanner, where the ballot is tabulated right away, she said.

“No reports are ever run until election night,” Maskus said.

Voter registration is closed now, but reopens Aug. 5 for the general election Nov. 3.

Candidate Questions and Answers for four county offices on the primary ballot are included in this issue of the paper, as well as a news release submitted by a write-in candidate.

The Q&A’s were prepared by the FHSU Department of Political Science, American Democracy Project, Student Government Association, FHSU Docking Institute of Public Affairs and The Chamber in Hays are proud to provide this platform to voters in Ellis County.

See Page A2 for the write-in news release for County Clerk; page A6 for the County Attorney Q&A; page A8 for the 23rd Judicial District Judge Q&A; page A9 for the Treasurer Q&A; and page A10 for the 2nd District County Commissioner Q&A.

Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus on Friday demonstrates how judges at the county's nine polling locations will check in voters using a stylus and Poll Pad electronic tablet to scan a driver's license and verify each voter's name and address.