Referendum ballots to be mailed this Friday

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
“Would you support a destination resort casino in Marion County?”

That’s the question registered voters in Marion County will be asked to mark “yes” or “no” when they receive their mail-in ballots from the county clerk’s office, possibly as early as Saturday.

County Clerk and Election Officer Carol Maggard said about 8,950 ballots will be taken to the post office Friday, Dec. 9, for mailing.

“They’ll be postmarked on that date,” Maggard said. “Even though (mail out of Marion) all goes to Topeka, some folks should probably get it in the mail already on Saturday.”

Each registered voter in the county should receive a packet of items in a standard letter-size envelope marked with the words “OFFICIAL BALLOT” and with Maggard’s office identified as the return address. Inside the envelope, voters should find:

  • a full-page ballot;
  • a one-third-page-sized set of voting instructions;
  • and a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope in which to mail back the marked ballot

The instructions direct voters to mark the ballot in secret. They should make a cross or a checkmark in the square to the right or the word “Yes” to vote in favor of having a destination casino resort in Marion County, or mark the square to the right of “No” to vote against it.No other marks are to be made on the ballot.

Once the ballot is marked, it should be refolded exactly as it came and placed in the return ballot envelope, which must be signed with a signature and permanent address.

“It’s just very important that they sign the return envelope and put their residence address on there,” Maggard emphasized.

She said even if a voter is temporarily living at a different address than the one that appears in the county’s voter-registration books-such as a nursing home or with a family member-voters will need to write the address on the return envelope that they used when they registered.

“That’s (the address) we’re using-what’s on our voter registration list as their permanent address,” Maggard said.

All marked and signed ballots must be mailed or returned personally in time to be received at the courthouse by noon on Thursday, Dec. 22.

Each ballot that is returned in person to the courthouse must be delivered by the person who filled it out, Maggard said.

“A mom or dad can’t bring in all five ballots from a household,” she said. “It has to be by each individual person.

“We scan the signature (on the return envelope),” she added. “That’s the reason for the bar code on the label on that return envelope. The signature will be scanned as it comes back in for verification also.”

Before they are counted, the ballots will be separated from the return envelopes in order to guarantee confidentiality.

Any voter who is unable to mark his or her ballot because he or she is ill, has a physical disability or is illiterate may request an affidavit of assistance from the county election office.

If a registered voter fails to receive a ballot, or loses it, he or she can come into the election office before the deadline to receive a replacement, Maggard said.

“Of course, if I then receive two ballots from an individual, it nullifies both of them,” she added.

Maggard said her team of ballot counters will begin its work at 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 22.

“We’ll open and start tallying (the ballots) until that noon deadline, making sure that we follow the 25 in the can when noon arrives,” she said. “I think we’ll probably have a few more in the can by that time, so we’ll probably work into the afternoon.”

Anyone who has not registered to vote already can still do so at the courthouse today (Dec. 7).

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