Voters get ballots without knowing they asked for one

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Monday is the first day for advanced balloting in Shawnee County, but before the polls even opened, there was confusion as to why some people were getting advance ballots in the mail without asking for them.

Campaigns are working hard to get out the vote, and in some cases, sent out mailers and pollsters, getting some voters to sign up for mail in ballots and they didn’t even realize it.

“There are a number of campaigns going from door-to-door and doing surveys, and getting signatures,” Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell explained.

What some don’t realize is that they are signing up for an advance mail in ballot. The concern arose over the weekend when someone posted on Facebook saying they always vote in person, and never asked for a mail in ballot.

“Be careful and make sure you look carefully at the document you’re signing because it may just be an application for a ballot,” he explained.

Howell says he’s not sure if what was done is illegal because he doesn’t know all the circumstances and warns voters, know before you sign.

His office has received several questions about the ballots and says there is a solution.

“On Election Day, if you show up at your polling place, you may end up needing to vote a provisional if you already had one sent and then later at the office we’ll verify if only one ballot was turned in,” he detailed.

Howell also warns that scams are on the rise including phone calls and emails asking for your credit card information. He stresses, make sure you donate directly to the campaign you want to support.

Additionally, he cautions against anyone who says voters can cast their ballot by phone.

“The easy answer to this in Shawnee County is all ballots are done on paper. And they’re done on paper for a reason. They’re done on paper so there is always a record. If there ever is a question we can always go back to a piece of paper and just manually hand count,” said Howell.

13 NEWS asked both the Republican and Democratic Party executives in Kansas if they know of any campaigns asking voters to sign papers without explaining what they are signing.

Ethan Corson, Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director told us it's not something they're doing, saying, “the application for an advance ballot by mail is lengthy and detailed. It is also clearly labeled ‘Application for Advance Ballot by Mail.’ It's highly unlikely that a voter would go through all these steps and still not know what they were filling out.

The Kansas Republican Party Executive Director has not returned our e-mails.

Howell says in the first day of advanced balloting, they have been busy with 100 people voting in the first hour.