GIRARD — The fate of Pittsburg school district’s $67.6 million bond rests in three rectangular machines at the county commission’s office.
The three machines were tested during a public viewing of the process in the commission chambers on Monday. After successfully testing each machine twice with a sample of 18 ballot, the county clerk and his staff began cutting open envelopes and using the machines to count the some of the 4,628 valid mail ballots received so far.
“I’m very confident” in the process, said County Clerk Don Pyle.
In 2008, a machine was improperly programmed and swapped votes between two candidates competing for county attorney.
Pyle said the anomaly between candidates at one booth led the county to recount by hand and correct the problem. But, Pyle was sure the programming was correct this time. He pointed to the six tests all showing the sample ballots reading like numbers of yes and no votes.
The ballots must be received by the county clerk no later than noon on Thursday. Pyle said the unofficial results will be posted on the Crawford County Kansas Election Facebook page.
The county is working with the Pittsburg post office to ensure voters still have time to get their ballots in.
“What we do is we isolate them here,” said Postmaster Bob Beasley.
Isolating the ballots prevents the mail from being routed to Kansas City before coming back to the county courthouse in Girard, shortening the amount of time. Ballots will be gathered earlier on Thursday to make the noon cutoff, Beasley said.
The official count will be announced after county commissioners approve provisional votes at their meeting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 2.
Provisional votes could be for a change of address within the district’s jurisdiction or a signature that did not match what the county has on file. The county has nearly 100 provisional ballots as of Monday.
Roughly 11,780 registered voters in Pittsburg’s jurisdiction began receiving ballots around Jan. 8. The proposed $67.6 million bond would mean construction at each school within the district — four elementary schools, the middle and high school.
The projects were proposed by a vision committee of community members who were meant to be representative of the community at large. The Pittsburg school board accepted the recommendations by the vision committee back in October 2015.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.