Here’s what to do if you receive a damaged mail-in ballot

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – More people are voting by mail for the 2020 General Election in Kansas, and the Shawnee County Election Office is keeping close watch to make sure everything goes smoothly. So what happens if you receive a ballot that doesn’t look right, or is completely ruined?

Linda Noland-Crique of Topeka decided to request a mail-in ballot for this year’s election due to the coronavirus.

“Why should I go ahead and go to a polling place where there’s going to be a lot of people and take that risk?” Noland-Crique said. “That was why I really wanted to do it that way. I had every confidence that it would go smoothly.”

However, that wasn’t the case for her.

“The envelope to mail it back in was already sealed down,” Noland-Crique said.

Noland-Crique called the election office right away. This is exactly what you should do if something like this happens, according to Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell. It’s a good idea to send them a picture of your ballot, Howell said.

“We want to make sure that everyone’s vote gets counted, and I would rather hear from people about it if they’ve got a question or got a problem,” Howell said. “Give us a call, 251-5900, and we can help you work through the process of getting it taken care of.”

Howell said Noland-Crique’s problem was likely an error from the machine that prepares the ballots to be mailed.

“It is pretty rare,” Howell said. “Every election I think there’s at least half a dozen that get beat up pretty hard by either the mail system or the stuffing, something happens.”

The election office will make sure to get you taken care of if something goes wrong with your ballot, so that you can exercise your right to vote, just like they did for Noland-Crique.

“I was really enthusiastic and excited that they called on a Saturday morning,” Noland-Crique said. “I didn’t expect to hear from them until at least Monday. Even then I was afraid with just a voicemail left, they may have to wade through many voicemails. So, I was really thrilled that they had called back that soon.”

If you are considering changing the way you want to vote, it’s a complicated process. To receive a second ballot, if nothing is wrong with your first, you must receive a provisional ballot from the election office. This will take quite a bit of paperwork and time, according to Howell.

Provisional ballots are not counted until canvass, which is 13 days following Election Day.

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