Votes found in western Kansas narrow Kobach’s lead over Colyer to under 100

Colyer wants to finish the first election count before considering a recount

Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke Wednesday about the need to count all the ballots before considering any recount.
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Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke Wednesday about the need to count all the ballots before considering any recount.

The Republican race for governor just got tighter.

Gov. Jeff Colyer’s campaign spokesman said Thursday that 100 votes for Colyer have been found in a western Kansas county, meaning Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is now only 91 votes ahead in the GOP race for governor.

Thomas County Clerk Shelly Harms confirmed in an email that Colyer received 522 votes on election day. The vote total reported for the county was initially 422.

Harms said in an additional email that the secretary of state’s office was responsible for the clerical error. She provided The Star with a scan of what she said was submitted to Kobach’s office on election night, showing 522 votes for Colyer.

Bryan Caskey, the director of elections who serves under Kobach, said in a phone call that he was not assigning blame for the error. “I’m just saying there was a discrepancy,” Caskey said.

Thousands of provisional ballots statewide have yet to be counted, however, and the true outcome of the primary race remains in doubt.

Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said in a phone call that the “discovery of 100 votes for Gov. Colyer that had not previously been counted highlight the need to thoroughly check and double check each vote and to make sure that every legitimate vote is counted in this race.”

Caskey said that the missing votes were discovered through the secretary of state’s office’s routine verification process, which asks each county to confirm its reported vote total.

He said errors occurred in other counties’ Tuesday night results, but those errors did not affect the governor’s race. He said that the office would update its results page Friday.

“We will adjust at some point. We’re not doing it on the fly,” Caskey said.

He said that the Friday totals also would include mail-in ballots, meaning the gap between the two candidates could possibly narrow or widen again.

The Friday totals will not include provisional ballots. The state’s two most populous counties, Johnson and Sedgwick, will review a combined 3,700 provisional ballots when they both hold their canvassing meetings on Monday.

But even then the overall vote total in the race will remain unknown.

Two of the state’s other most populous counties, Wyandotte and Shawnee, won’t hold their canvas meetings until Thursday of next week. Counties are allowed to continue canvassing until Aug. 20.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself from a recount of his race against Gov. Jeff Colyer.