Wyandotte County responds to criticism about a lack of ballot drop boxes

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Wyandotte County election commissioner is under fire from Kansas Democrats for not having enough ballot drop boxes for the voters in his county.

The Kansas secretary of state provided two to any county that wanted them, but that is not enough for Wyandotte County, said Kansas Democratic Party Chair Vicki Hiatt.

“Wyandotte County has unfortunately been very notorious for low voter turn out, and it’s very important, I think, to send a message to voters that we want you to vote,” she said.

Wyandotte County has long been a Democratic stronghold in the historically red state of Kansas. Hiatt believes the two ballot drop boxes placed outside of the KCK election office should instead be placed in neighborhoods outside of downtown. She is also concerned that smaller counties in Kansas have more drop off boxes than Wyandotte County.

“We need better accessibility for our voters and Wyandotte County, and some of that will come from having ballot boxes more available to voters to be able to drop off the ballots,” Hiatt said.

This is the first election Wyandotte County has used ballot drop boxes. Election Commissioner Bruce Newby pointed out that they are not required and said Wyandotte County already has a voting mechanism in place that has always worked very well.

“It’s not like the voter is put in a position where they can’t get their mail ballot to us because there are a number of ways that that can happen,” Newby said. 

Those ways include dropping ballots in the mail, taking them to a polling place on Election Day or delivering them to the Kansas Avenue election office before November 3.

“To include having somebody in their neighborhood collect their ballot and bring it here,” Newby said.

After learning there may be extra ballot boxes available, Newby sent an email to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office Monday requesting more and is using CARES Act money from The Unified Government of Wyandotte County to order four additional ballot drop boxes. He said they should be delivered within the week.

“The message to voters is you can have full confidence your ballot will be, if you vote by mail, will be received when you put it in the dropbox,” Newby said. “Or whether you bring it to us or whether you drop it off in a polling place, your ballot will be received and your ballot will be counted.”

Of the potential of additional ballot drop off boxes, Hiatt said, “I think that’s great and that’s what needs to be done. Whatever it has taken to make him make this happen, then fine.”

Commissioner Newby plans to place the additional boxes outside city halls in Wyandotte County, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville.

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