Voting turnout higher, but results could take some time

Update 9:10 p.m.
With early and advance ballots  counted, Democratic candidates are leading in Harvey County.
This is not a surprise, with Democratic candidate Tim Hodge spending a huge amount of time collecting advanced ballots in order to try to turn out the vote for his campaign.
Hodge leads challenger Kelly by a 20 point margin for Kansas House Seat 72.
Laura Kelly leads Kris Kobach by a 12 point margin or about 1,000 cotes in Harvey County.
Brian “Bam” McClendon leads Scott Schwab in Harvey County for the Secretary of State’s Office.
James Thompson leads Ron Estes 51 percent to 48 percent, for the U.S. House District Four.
In the County Commission race Chip Westfall leads by 10 percentage points over both Dan Harms and Greg Nickel. Nickel has 482 votes and Dan Harms with 487 votes.
Look for some of these leads to tighten as the night continues.
Harvey County Clerk Rick Piepho said it’s possible this could be the highest turnout for midterm elections in recent memory, looking at current voting numbers.

The county had about 1,000 more people vote early this year than in 2014.  The County mailed out a record amount of advanced ballots this year, 1,800 more than in 2016.  And so far poll check ins were steady, lower than in the 2016 presidential election but still higher than the last midterm election.
“We were at 54 percent in 2014,” Piepho said.  “I think we could be ay 63 percent this year, after canvassing, when all is said and done.”

That could be a long time because of a change in state regulations and the massive number of mail in ballots that had yet to be turned in on election day.

The campaign for State House incumbent Tim Hodge has relied heavily on distribution of advanced ballots to help turn out the vote for the candidate during the months leading up to the election.
Piepho said the county sent out approximately 3,800 mail-in ballots but as of Tuesday afternoon had received 2,374, meaning approximately 1,400 had yet to be turned in.

Piepho said in years past, ballots not in the county court house by Tuesday, mail or otherwise, would not be counted. However, due to a change in Kansas regulations clerks can accept the mail in ballots until Friday as long as they are postmarked by 7 p.m., Tuesday. Any ballot put in the mail by Monday should be counted.

According to Piepho, ballots mailed on Tuesday would not have a time stamp making them unacceptable to county clerks.  Mail-in ballots would have to be turned in at polling locations if they weren’t already in the mail on Monday to be counted.

All this means that if races are close with the potential for more than 1,000 votes to be out, the outcome of such races might not be decided until official vote canvassing takes place later in the week.

Piepho also said people receiving advanced ballots but then deciding to go to the polls to vote without turning in their advanced ballot would have to file a provisional ballot, something that the board of canvassers would rule on accepting during the official vote canvass that will take place later in the week.

The poll location at Nazarene Church Gym in the northern end of Newton reported around 40 such provisional ballots as of 4:30 p.m., with another 20 mail in ballots turned in at that location.

“We’ve had a lot of advanced ballots turned in,” Ellen Yocum, who has been an election worker since 2004 said.
“We’ve been steady all day,” she said adding that the turn out in the area wasn’t higher than the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
“When Obama ran both times we were swamped,” she said. “The last (presidential election) we weren’t.”

She said overall turnout seemed about as much as in 2016 at the location.

Polls are set to close at 7 p.m. with results flowing in afterwards. More updates will be posted as they become available. Election results are available courtesy of Rick Piepho on the Harvey County website as well as here:

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