The ballots of 23 Sedgwick County voters were tossed out Monday under a state law that requires disabled voters to sign their own mail-in ballot envelopes. County commissioners, acting as the canvassing board for last week’s election, reluctantly signed off on the decision to toss out the ballots. They said they think the law is wrong, but they had no choice. “We’re checking that for the next election, because it’s a stupid rule,” said commission Chairman Dave Unruh. Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Kansas Disability Rights Center, said it defies common sense to require a person who is physically incapable of filling out a ballot to try to sign it. “Some people with disabilities can’t use their arms,” he said. “It sounds like nobody’s disputing that these ballots were filled out (properly). It’s just technicality. … It doesn’t seem right and it’s not right.”
The issue revolves around two affidavits that appear on the outside of voters’ mail ballot envelopes.
For the ballot to be counted, the voter is required to sign a statement on the envelope that he or she personally marked, enclosed and sealed the ballot.
But that instruction appears to conflict with the other affidavit on the envelope, where an assistant can sign to attest that he or she marked a ballot as instructed by the disabled voter.