Not just anyone can observe voting

Voting (KSN Photo)
Voting (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Presidential candidate Donald Trump has asked his supporters to go to the polls and observe.

But, not just anyone can do that. At least not in Sedgwick County.

“Oh, no, you can’t just do that,” says Tabitha Lehman, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner. “You have to be appointed by a political party or a candidate. And only one person from that candidate or political party can be at that polling location at a time.”

Lehman says when you vote, you are free to observe others. But you can’t be at the polling place beyond your voting time to just hang out and observe.

In Sedgwick County, one poll observer is allowed at each polling place. One observer is allowed from each political party, and you have to register to be an observer.

“You have to fill out a form and be on file with our office,” says Lehman.

And, official “poll observers” can only watch. No handling of ballots. No asking questions of voters. No pics allowed.

But, observers can watch.

Lehman says there is no plan to have officers at polling stations to provide security.

KSN also checked with other large counties, to see if there is security at polling stations.

“No, we normally don’t and I tell you the reason,” says Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell. “I’m a little cautious to have a cop or sheriff’s office (deputy) at every polling place. I don’t want people to feel like there is some level of intimidation.”

Howell says they appoint election workers from opposing parties so there is, most likely, one person from each party at least observing.

“And then we also have technicians that run a route, all day every day, to kind of make sure everything is running smoothly,” says Howell. “And if there are any problems their job is also to kind of oversee and check, basically once an hour or so, make sure everything is running smoothly.”

Howell says his county, like others in the state, has multiple layers of security in the actual voting machines. That includes equipment that shows up at polling places under lock and key. They also have multiple passwords that have to be used to access the machines.

“There are so many layers of protection in place I actually am not worried about it,” says Howell. “And, like I said, you have a Republican and a Democrat and an Independent there, watching everybody.”