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Software glitch created delay in Johnson County vote count

Johnson County election results typically take longer to tabulate that out-state results. That’s mainly because of the number of ballots being tabulated in this urban Kansas county. Turn-out was extremely high for the August primary which exacerbated the delay.

But, with the drama generated by late returns and a tight race for governor between Kris Kobach and Jeff Colyer on election day, the delay this year made some nervous and spawned unfounded rumors of vote tampering. Gov. Colyer even asked Secretary of State Kris Kobach to recuse himself from involvement in the counting even though the Secretary of State is constitutionally authorized with overseeing it.

Now, Johnson County officials say a software error cause the initial half-day delay in getting the votes counted.

Ronnie Metsker, former president of Kansas City Youth for Christ and TV-50 and who now serves as Johnson County Election Commissioner, says the error has been corrected and he is confident the problem will not resurface in the November general election.

Johnson County’s vote tabulating vendor, Election Systems and Software, is partly responsible for the problems. The company’s CEO Tom Burt told media outlets early tests of the software were successful though he did not divulge how many tests were performed.

The county spent over $10 million over the last few months purchasing new voting machines and the new software but did not use all of the machines available for the August primaries.

Because of the long lines, Metsker says additional machines will be put in place for November bringing the total to 2,100.

Turn-out in Kansas topped 51 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach had forecast a 50 percent voter turnout. Over 880,000 ballots were cast out of 1,744,866 registered voters.

The 2014 midterm elections created the highest number of votes cast ever and the highest number of registered voters during any midterm election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.


–Dwight Widaman