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Few slush to polls in Wyandotte and Johnson

Updated: 2013-02-26T22:55:14Z

By KAREN DILLON and STEVE KRASKE

The Kansas City Star

Despite heavy snow, wind and cold, hundreds of citizens have sloshed their way to polls today for municipal primaries in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

In Wyandotte County, which is holding its mayoral and commission primaries, about 1,654 people had voted as of 4:15 p.m, said election commissioner Bruce Newby. He and his staff camped out at headquarters overnight to usher in a snowy primary day.

The number of votes cast Tuesday was dwarfed by the nearly 4,000 ballots submitted ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Slightly less than half of those advance votes were made through the mail. Of the nearly 2,000 cast in person ahead of time, nearly all came on Monday amid the storm forecasts warning of the snow that dumped on the metro area.

Still, a few intrepid people made their way through the slush on Tuesday to vote.

“We think it is fabulous,” said an election worker who recognized the difficulties of getting out of driveways this morning and navigating streets.

In Johnson County, where election workers and poll judges spent the night at their respective polling places, about 200 people showed up to vote in six elections being held in Fairway, Lenexa Merriam, Overland Park, Roeland Park and Shawnee.

Johnson County had about 1,000 advanced votes either in-person or by mail. That information was not available today from Wyandotte County.

“This is an unusual election,” said Sarah Horn, Johnson County elections spokeswoman, who along with other co-workers spent the night at the election office. “This is not normal.”

The elections have had snags because of the snowstorm. On Monday, election officials agreed to extend the advanced voting by seven hours to allow citizens more time to cast a ballot as the storm was looming. They also severely decreased the number of polling places.

The Johnson County elections office decided poll judges and employees could stay the night so that they could open up the polls at 7 a.m. That meant beginning work at 5:45 a.m., Horn said, to prepare for voters.

“In presidential elections we start an hour before that,” she said.

Horn said she and others spent the night on cots and dinner was catered in from a local deli.

This morning, it was decided that many votes would have to be taken on paper ballots, which could make the counting of votes tonight more difficult and late.

Horn remained upbeat.

“Whatever comes,” she said, “we are dealing with it.”

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