Counties begin considering provisional ballots with GOP State Treasurer race unresolved
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The two Republican candidates for State Treasurer will have to decide whether to pursue a recount - before all provisional ballots are tallied.
Kansas counties began certifying election results Monday. The process could finally determine the winner in a race that’s remained too close to call. By 5 p.m. Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office said state representative Steven Johnson held a 458 vote lead over state senator Caryn Tyson. The margin Friday was 375 votes, but at one point last week as mail ballots came in, Tyson has closed the gap to within 150.
The close margin triggered a new state law that said counties must complete an expanded audit for races within a one-percent margin election. Counties must hand-count the ballots in 10 percent of their precincts, and compare results with the machine totals. Normally, the post-election audit involves one-percent of precincts in a certain number of randomly-selected races.
Kansas Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bryan Caskey said the audit was about 60-percent complete by late Monday afternoon, with only a few minor issues identified.
“There are a handful of reports, as there are every year, where a voter marked outside the ballot; where they circled it or check marked it; where in some way the machine did not recognize those and the post election audit caught that. That’s what we’ve seen so far but we are not yet done,” he said.
Caskey says a total of 24,379 provisional ballots were cast in the primary. The Secretary of State’s office did not have a breakdown by party.
While the new law triggers an expanded audit, under primary election rules, a candidate - or any other registered voter - would have to request and pay for any recount. The cost could run into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending whether the candidate or person requested a hand or machine count, and whether it was statewide or involved only certain counties.
The deadline to request is 5 p.m. Friday. However, Caskey said the state’s three largest counties - Shawnee, Sedgwick and Johnson - will not consider their provisional ballots until Monday, meaning the request must be made before all the vote totals are known.
Tyson carried Johnson and Shawnee counties by a total margin of 67,780 to 56,718. Steven Johnson win in Sedgwick Co., 32,820 to 27,992.
Caskey said the Secretary of State’s office proposed legislation this past session to change the deadline and avoid such a situation, but it did not advance.
The winner between Johnson and Tyson faces current state treasurer, Democrat Lynn Rogers, in the November election.
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