While the Aug. 4 primary is months away, the Leavenworth county clerk still has concerns about how the election will be conducted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"It takes months and months to plan an election," said County Clerk Janet Klasinski, who spoke Wednesday to county commissioners.
She noted health experts do not yet believe the area has reached a peak for coronavirus cases.
Klasinski first raised concerns to county commissioners about the Aug. 4 election when they met last week and addressed the issue again Wednesday.
County Administrator Mark Loughry said Wednesday that state officials have not been responsive to requests from the county to conduct the Aug. 4 primary using only mail ballots.
"So far, we’ve had no success with that," he said.
The county clerk can conduct mail ballot elections for special tax questions, such as school bond issues. But she does not have the authority to make the Aug. 4 primary a mail ballot-only election.
Klasinski said the Kansas secretary of state could authorize a mail ballot election for the Aug. 4 primary.
"The secretary of state could authorize a mail ballot election in these extraordinary times," she said.
Loughry said it seems irresponsible for the county to ask people to man polling locations during an election.
Klasinski has said many of the people who traditionally serve as election workers in the county are members of what would be considered a vulnerable population for COVID-19.
Loughry said it seems irresponsible of the state not to allow a mail ballot election for the Aug. 4 primary.
Commission Chairman Doug Smith suggested the commission could send a letter to state legislators who represent the county.
Klasinski said she believes this would be helpful.
Loughry said he will draft a letter that commissioners can approve next week.
The County Clerk’s Office can send advance ballots by mail to voters who request them.
Klasinski said some election officials in other counties already have mailed out applications for advance ballots to all voters in their counties.
Klasinski said her office may do this in mid April or early May.
Following the meeting, Klasinski said people who are interested in filing as candidates this year for county offices or other local offices should call her office at 913-684-0421. The filing deadline is noon June 1.
Also Wednesday, commissioners spoke with County Treasurer Janice Van Parys. Van Parys said she wishes to transfer payroll expenses for employees who handle vehicle registrations from what is called a motor vehicle fund to a general fund.
The general fund account includes money budgeted for the Treasurer’s Office by the county government. The motor vehicle fund contains money the Treasurer’s Office receives for the registration of vehicles.
With the Leavenworth County Courthouse and annex building currently closed because of COVID-19, the motor vehicle fund balance is low, Van Parys said.
The Treasurer’s Office continues to renew vehicle registrations for people who place their information in drop boxes. But the governor of Kansas has granted an extension for vehicle registrations.
Commissioners plan to review the matter when they meet next week.
In other business
The Leavenworth County Commission:
– Approved an agreement with TranSystems. The company will conduct a concept study for what is being referred to as the Eastern Gateway.
The Eastern Gateway includes a proposal for an additional Missouri River bridge linking Leavenworth County with Platte County, Missouri. TranSystems will conduct the study for an amount not to exceed $30,000.
– Approved changes to county zoning and subdivision regulations. Krystal Voth, interim planning and zoning director, said the changes included removing secondary urban growth areas from the regulations.