TOPEKA — Voters don’t have to have their IDs scanned with the new electronic equipment that Sedgwick County uses to quickly pull up voters’ information at polling places, a top state elections official said Tuesday.
The electronic devices, which are similar to a grocery store bar-code scanner, speed up the voting check-in process by quickly verifying voters’ identification if they have a Kansas driver’s license or other state-issued ID.
But some voters didn’t want to have their IDs scanned or had alternative IDs that can’t be scanned.
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, said some of those voters told her that poll workers forced them to cast provisional ballots, which are more likely to be rejected.
“That’s a mistake,” said Brad Bryant, deputy assistant secretary of state.
Poll workers should inspect the ID manually and enter the person’s name when the scanners aren’t an option.
Faust-Goudeau said the ID scanners became even more of an issue when the power went out at a Wichita voting location in August.
Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said the scanners are battery operated and continued to function, and she said voters at the powerless Edgemoor polling place were able to vote with paper ballots.
Bryant said his office “pretty much requires” polling places to have backup voter books and paper ballots to be used when electronic devices malfunction.
“It’s a training issue,” he said.
Lehman said she didn’t know of any widespread instances of voters being told to cast provisional ballots if the scanners didn’t work or the voters refused to have their ID scanned.
She said the scanners have been used in several municipal elections this year and that poll workers have a learning curve with the new equipment. She said it’s possible some workers didn’t understand the procedure and asked voters to cast a provisional ballot.
“That may have happened, but it shouldn’t,” she said.
Lehman said the scanners aren’t connected to the Internet and do not have access to anything beyond identification – the information accessed couldn’t show a poll worker speeding tickets, warrants or any other such information.