Elections

Final results: Longwell and Whipple to face off in mayor’s race; vote audit clean

Were the voting machines right?

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman explains steps her office took to ensure the accuracy of vote counts in the recent election for Wichita mayor.
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Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman explains steps her office took to ensure the accuracy of vote counts in the recent election for Wichita mayor.

The final vote tally in the primary election for Wichita mayor is in, and incumbent Jeff Longwell and challenger Brandon Whipple have officially advanced to the November general election.

Lyndy Wells finished in third place, the same order of finish as the election night returns.

In the official final totals, Whipple polled 6,067 votes to Wells’ 5,770 to secure the second spot to advance.

Longwell led the nine-candidate field with 7,404.

The canvassing board, mostly Sedgwick County commissioners, ruled Thursday morning that 104 ballots should be disallowed for a variety of reasons, including the untimely death of one voter who mailed his ballot but then died before election day.

That left 464 votes to be counted Thursday — 457 provisional votes cast at polling places on election day and seven mail ballots that were challenged and confirmed.

Officials in the election office began counting those votes Thursday morning after receiving direction from the canvassing board, which returned in the afternoon to certify the election.

Wells, a retired banker, placed third in the election night count , behind Whipple by 160 votes with more than 1,000 late ballots to be counted.

Wells didn’t concede, but instead of catching up, he continued to fall further behind Whipple for the second spot in the Nov. 5 general election.

A count of late-arriving mail ballots Friday expanded Whipple’s lead to 234.

And in the provisional vote count on Thursday, Whipple extended the lead by an additional 63 votes.

Also on Thursday, Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman provided canvassers with the results from an audit of the voting machines.

It showed no discrepancies between a hand count of paper ballots and the machine counts reported on election night.

An auditing committee independent from the election office hand-counted three randomly selected precincts and compared the totals.

Those represented 1% of the votes cast in the elections for mayor and an at-large school board seat that were on the Aug. 6 ballot, Lehman said.

The school board race wasn’t in doubt after election night.

In the final count, Joseph Shepard finished with 5,452 votes to advance to a general election runoff against incumbent Sheril Logan, who received 4,925 votes.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.
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