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Sedgwick County: Scanner problems shouldn’t keep anyone from voting

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, at 7:22 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, August 27, 2013, at 9:38 a.m.

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When the scanner at the Sedgwick County Zoo’s advance polling site wouldn’t read Jeannette McCombs’ new Kansas driver’s license Wednesday, she was concerned.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t get to vote,” McCombs said.

So she presented her old driver’s license to the polling worker. The scanner read it, and she proceeded to vote.

But McCombs’ experience brings up a couple of reminders as advance voting continues and as Tuesday’s Election Day approaches.

Scanning of a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card is only used to speed up the voting process by quickly verifying a voter’s information. Scanning of the IDs isn’t required for a person to vote, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said.

If the scanner doesn’t work, or a person doesn’t want to have their license or ID scanned, poll workers are trained to type in the information, she said.

“It shouldn’t keep them from voting,” Lehman said.

McCombs said she renewed her license a few days ago, so she was given one of the new licenses that the state began issuing in mid-October. The old ones have a magnetic bar code and a two-dimensional bar code on the back; the new ones only have the 2-D bar code.

But Lehman said that shouldn’t matter in the voting process because the scanner only reads the 2-D bar code on both the old and new licenses. She wasn’t sure why the scanner didn’t pick up the information off McCombs’ new license.

“Maybe it wasn’t aimed right,” Lehman said.

The county purchased 130 scanners – 90 percent of the tab was paid by a federal grant – in 2010. While that’s more scanners than there are polling sites, not all of the locations will have a scanner on Election Day, Lehman said.

Some sites will have as many as four scanners.

“We try to put them at sites that have the heavier traffic,” Lehman said.

Scanners, however, are at all advance polling sites.

Advance voting at the 15 satellite sites ends Saturday. A list of those sites can be found at www.sedgwickcounty.org/elections. But voters can still cast an advance vote at the election office, 501 N. Main, Suite 101, from 8 a.m. until noon on Monday.

As for McCombs, she’s just happy to have voted.

“The worker was really nice to me at the zoo,” she said. “I just wanted everyone to be aware of the possible problem. I want everyone to vote.”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or at rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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