Johnson County election results continued to be delayed Wednesday morning because of an onslaught of paper ballots received by mail in the past two days, the county election commissioner said.
Workers continued to process ballots Wednesday. It wasn’t known when the final results would be in. Ronnie Metsker, the Johnson County election commissioner, went to a scheduled appointment, but was expected back soon.
Just before midnight, Metsker said workers were processing the ballots as fast as they could but he didn’t expect more results for a couple of hours.
“We started at 4:15 this morning (Tuesday) and we are plodding along the best we can,” Metsker said late Tuesday. “We saw this train coming ... but this is a very tedious and skill specific task.”
Workers were trying to get through all the paper ballots before the election, but four shipments came by mail on Monday and more Tuesday, he said, and the ballots have to be processed by hand.
At around 1:30 a.m., some workers were sent home after the office experienced a major delay while trying to process an onslaught of mail in ballots. Those ballots came from Johnson County residents overseas, such as people in the military.
“We still have enough people to do what we need to do,” Metsker said as he stood in an empty room at the Johnson County election office. By then, he’d been at the office for nearly 22 hours.
“We’re going to be here until it’s done. ... What I seek to do is the right thing in the right way in the right time and speak the truth.”
Workers had hoped to process all the mail-in ballots before it was time to process machine votes from Election Day. But Metsker said the office received a voluminous amount of mail in ballots on Monday and some more on Tuesday. In four mail deliveries on Monday, one had 12 trays of ballots with roughly 430 ballots on each tray.
Workers were not able to finish by the time polls closed Tuesday evening.
“We overwhelmed our system with the scanning of paper ballots,” Metsker told reporters at 2 a.m.
Workers are not able to process machine ballots at the same time as mail-in ballots. So as the office has typically done, it worked to finish the ballots they had already started.
The good news, Metsker said in the early morning hours of Wednesday, is nothing was lost.
“The paper ballots are still here,” the election commissioner said. “They’re good. They can be rescanned. It just takes time.”
Shortly before 7 a.m., the Johnson County Election Office said via Twitter that it had finished tabulating Election Day votes, but wouldn’t be able to report them until the Kansas Secretary of State resumed collecting results at 9 a.m.
In the meantime, the election office would continue scanning and tabulating the remaining ballots.