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Nine of 28 without voter ID in guest-tax election have votes counted after providing ID

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 1:54 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 2:13 p.m.

Nine of the 28 Wichitans who went to the polls Feb. 28 to vote on the Ambassador Hotel referendum but didn’t have the required photo identification have since provided a copy of their ID and had their ballots count.

Those became some of the official numbers after Sedgwick County’s canvassing board met Thursday to certify the results presented by Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman.

Nearly 27,000 Wichitans voted in the special election that saw a plan to give $2.25 million in bed tax money to developers of a downtown boutique hotel defeated by a 61.57 to 38.43 percent margin. Included in that number were 506 provisional ballots cast for a variety of reasons, including those who didn’t have a photo ID as required by a state law that took effect this year.

Voters who couldn’t show an ID at the polls had until Thursday to provide it by either mailing in a copy or presenting it in person at the election office. All nine who provided an ID did so by mailing in a copy, Lehman said. She said 17 voters never followed up.

The other two provisional ballots were rejected for reasons in addition to not providing an ID. One was a convicted felon who either hadn’t finished serving his sentence or hadn’t re-registered since fulfilling his sentence. The other one didn’t sign the provisional ballot, Lehman said.

The wide margin of the results may have discouraged some of the voters from going to the trouble of providing the ID, she said.

Of the 506 provisional ballots, 88 were rejected, Lehman said. An improper or lack of signature was one of the most common reasons for not validating an advance ballot put on the provisional list. Some didn’t live within the city limits.

More than 150 provisional ballots were cast because voters showed up at the wrong polling site. Most of those were the result of robo calls, Lehman said.

Developer Paul Coury, leader of the yes campaign, acknowledged on Election Day that his group’s campaign calls had mistakenly directed some voters to the wrong places.

Most of those provisional ballots were accepted, though.

The final count bumped up the turnout to 13.7 percent, a fraction of a percentage point higher than unofficially reported on election night.

“I was hoping we’d have more,” Lehman said.

The official final count: 16,454 voted no, 10,268 voted yes. That actually totals 153 less than the 26,875 who cast ballots. Lehman said the 153 people cast a blank ballot for whatever reason.

Twenty-seven percent of the votes were cast in advance. Lehman said that was split almost evenly between votes sent by mail and those cast in person at advance polling sites.

One voting case was sent to Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office for review for possible voter fraud, Lehman said. The person voted in advance and then tried to vote again at a polling location.

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