WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — If you have any questions or doubts about the voting process, you had the chance to get some answers Friday at the Sedgwick County Election Office. Election Commissioner Angela Caudillo held a public demonstration of voting equipment.

“We’re required to hold a test and demonstrate the equipment that is going to be used in the election,” she said. “That consists of taking a set of premarked ballots with expected results, running them through our system, producing those results through that tabulation process and verifying that those results all match.”

Besides the media, only two Wichita residents attended the demonstration. One went into the experience pretty confident about election security. The other one had doubts.

Caudillo gave both Kari Sue Vosburgh and Logan Pajunen paper ballots and asked them to fill them out for the test. Caudillo also had other test ballots prepared.

The process

Once they finished, Caudillo had Vosburgh, and Pajunen put the ballots in a precinct scanner, just as if they were voting at a precinct. She then showed them how she needed a key to access the machine’s top panel to get results. She also needed a key to open the bottom part of the machine where the ballots are in a blue tub.

Caudillo said ballot-marking devices and precinct scanners are not connected to the internet in any way. Precinct workers have to get the results from the machines and take them to the election office in downtown Wichita. Once the results are delivered, in person, to the election office, workers take them to the tabulation room to get ready to report to the media.

Sedgwick County has 81 polling locations. Caudillo said that is one of the reasons it takes so long to post results to the Sedgwick County election website. She also said the county is big geographically, so there is a matter of distance. Plus, voters in line when polls are supposed to close at 7 p.m. are still allowed to vote. That means it could be a little later or much later before election workers deliver the results downtown.

One person is reassured

Pajunen said he attended the demonstration because he thought it would be interesting.

“I really had no expectations, but it was pretty illuminating once I got here,” he said.

Caudillo told him that voters’ ballots are kept for 22 months. She also covered how the machines are managed and stored and how the software is updated.

Pajunen said he did not really have many doubts before attending the demonstration but still felt reassured.

“To be able to ask the election commissioner how it worked, and then I actually got to fill out a test ballot and then have that be counted … and then we actually tabulated that, me and one other person, so I felt like, that it was a secure process, that it worked correctly,” he said.

“I felt better than I did, to begin with,” Pajunen said. “It sounds like they take their job very seriously here.”

One person has concerns

Vosburgh said she has been following the election process since the 2020 presidential election.

“If you don’t understand the process, then it’s hard to complain,” she said.

She is concerned that there are still parts of the election process that voters do not see, such as how county election offices send their results to the Kansas secretary of state and, from there, to the news media.

Vosburgh still has questions after Friday’s demonstration.

“There’s processes, like I said, that we can’t see, so it’s hard to verify,” she said. “They insist that they’re not connected to the internet, but no one can prove that to us because they can’t open the machines to see if there’s a modem inside or anything like that.”

She is disappointed that only two people showed up for the demonstration.

“The staff here have been very helpful,” Vosburgh said. “They’ve answered all of our questions, and they’re willing to help the people learn, so people should get out and find out what’s going on.”

Election officials respond

KSN News asked Caudillo about Vosburgh’s concern — about how the county sends its results to the secretary of state’s office.

“There is a process through the secretary of state’s office to report those, and I would refer you to the secretary of state to detail more of that information for you,” she said.

So, we contacted Whitney Tempel, director of communications and policy for the secretary of state. She sent us this response:

The Secretary of State’s office securely receives unofficial election night results directly from each of the 105 county election offices. These county results are submitted periodically after the close of polls until the county submits its final report on election night. Once a county submits a periodic report to the Secretary of State, it undergoes proof-reading before being displayed publicly and made available to the media.

It is important to note these results are unofficial and are produced as quickly as possible. There are numerous checks and balances in place to verify the accuracy of the results that are produced. This results in vote totals being updated as results are reviewed and verified.

Whitney Tempel, Kansas Secretary of State Director of Communications and Policy

Caudillo said she likes it when people show up and ask questions.

“It’s nice to be able to get people involved in the process,” she said. “They can sit down and look at it, see for themselves. You know, seeing is believing, and so a lot of times, when people take the time and get educated, it’s really helpful to us because then they go out and they share our story.”