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Sedgwick County’s Angela Caudillo talks election prep, security ahead of Aug. 2 vote

LaRissa Lawrie
KMUW/File Photo

Sedgwick County election officials anticipate a higher than usual voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election.

Now over a year into the job, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Angela Caudillo is preparing her department for the Aug. 2 election, which includes a vote on a contentious amendment to the Kansas Constitution about abortion.

She recently spoke with KMUW’s Daniel Caudill about how her department is preparing for the busy election amid an ongoing pandemic, and how she responds to concerns about election security.

The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Interview Highlights

KMUW: What challenges come with planning an election during a pandemic, if any? 

CAUDILLO: So with the COVID-19 numbers on the rise, there is potential for staffing issues. And we have had some election workers have to call out for training because of sickness.

So what we’re trying to do in response to that is get about an additional 100 election workers that are staffed and ready to go, so we can deploy them to sites as they get busy.

And I know that the county is looking at upping election worker pay as part of its budget process this year. I wanted to clarify with you, is that something that’s in place now or something that you guys are looking at for the future?

In 2020, there was some additional [funds], where we were able to raise election worker pay for that year only. It’s then reverted back to the normal pay, which is $7.50 per hour for a cross-trained clerk and $10 per hour for a supervising judge.

We have made a request to increase that by a couple of dollars over the next couple of years, and the county commission is taking that into consideration in their budget process.

What kind of turnout are you guys actually projecting or anticipating for the Aug. 2 vote? 

In statewide midterm primary elections in Sedgwick County, historically we see about 30 to 35 percent turnout.

We are expecting potentially 50 percent turnout. Of course, we’d love to see that and even more. So we’re definitely preparing for over that 50 percent mark, but we think we’ll probably see about 50 percent.

It seems that there’s a number of people in the community who are concerned about voter fraud or election security in general. What do you usually say to people when you get questions or concerns about the security of elections in Sedgwick County? 

Well I definitely understand people having concerns, and I think it’s great when people are engaged in the process and are thinking about these things, and care about their community and the processes enough to think about these things and think through them.

A lot of the concerns I’ve heard talk about paper ballots. I’ve received several emails that say, “Sedgwick County needs to be all paper ballot.”

And I say, “Great news! We actually are all paper ballot.”

That means that all of our ballots are auditable, and we do have a post-election audit.

Why should people vote on Aug. 2 or just generally? 

I do think there has been an increased interest in political involvement and elections in general. Everybody who votes has their own reason.

Some people see it as a civic duty; other people feel passionate about specific issues or candidates, want their voices to be heard and their views represented.

So there’s a lot of reasons why people vote, but we are encouraged to see the increased participation.

Daniel Caudill reports on Kansas state government for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. He was a general assignment reporter for KMUW and a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.