Vol. 2, Issue 11                                         November 2017
Flaw in the Law Must be Fixed: Disabled Must have Voting Accomodations
In 2011, Kansas passed a law intended to enhance the security of elections. The Safe and Fair Election act passed with strong bipartisan support (111-11 in the House, 36-3 in the Senate). One new provision in that law requires the signature on every mail ballot be verified before the ballot is accepted. Now when someone registers to vote, a copy of their signature is kept on file. Election office workers call up the voter’s signature file and do a cross check before the envelope is opened and separated from the ballot. If there is uncertainty on whether the signatures reasonably match, the worker sends those sealed envelopes to the canvassing board (county commissioners) for review. There is plenty of grace afforded in canvassing scrutiny but this does insert a level of subjectivity. The good news is, the higher level of discussion around signatures on the envelope has revealed a long standing flaw in the law.

Right now, there is no legitimate process for a fully disabled person to navigate through the mail ballot voting process. The problem in this case goes back to at least the 1990’s. The issue at stake is a requirement for the voter to sign an affidavit on the outside of the envelope stating that they personally marked, enclosed, and sealed their own ballot in the envelope. If the voter needs assistance, there is another affidavit for the assistant to sign. Strangely, when an assistant signs the envelope, it does not relieve any of the requirements for the voter. For all this time, if the voter signature line was left blank or if someone else signed for the voter (even though the assistance affidavit was properly completed) the ballot would be rejected. The question then is, what if someone has zero ability to sign the voter line? Unfortunately, last week, there were 23 mail ballots that fell into this category that according to state law could not be counted. That’s tragic. 

Somehow, this shortfall in Kansas Law must be fixed. The Americans With Disabilities Act says we must make reasonable accommodations for a person with a disability, for any public program and that certainly includes voting. I’ve already contacted state legislators encouraging them to make this a priority in the next legislative session. Furthermore, the discussion about this legal flaw during canvassing gives me confidence that the county will prioritize pushing forward a solution to this issue. 
Sedgwick County Fire promotes new leaders, welcomes graduates
On Friday, Oct. 20, Sedgwick County Fire District 1 promoted 13 people into leadership roles. Six firefighters were promoted to lieutenants and five lieutenants were promoted to captains. Fire District also promoted two captains to division chief.  

Nine people recently graduated from the fire academy program. During this five month long program, recruits learn proper firefighting techniques and go through rigorous training to prepare them for a successful career within the Fire District. Commissioners and Fire District leaders celebrated the graduates at a graduation ceremony on Friday, Nov. 17.  
Text to 911 available in Sedgwick County
Sedgwick County Emergency Communications now has the capability to accept text messages for emergency assistance. Text-to-911 is available for those individuals who cannot safely make a voice call to 911 in an emergency. Emergency Communications has worked in conjunction with the Kansas 911 Coordinating Council to bring this service to the county.

The best way to contact 911 is by making a voice call. Please only utilize the Text-to-911 service in emergency circumstances where a voice call is not possible or safe. Call if you can, text if you can’t. Please do not send a test text message to 911.
Take care to give care
November is National Family Caregiver Month. Today more than 65 million people, nearly 30% of the U.S. population, provide care for chronically ill, disabled, or older family members or friends. Caregivers can be neighbors, family, or friends and it's important they have support. 

It’s essential to take care of yourself when you’re a caregiver. Ensuring that you get proper nutrition will help maintain strength, energy, stamina, and a positive attitude. Find time for yourself such as working out at the gym, reading late at night, or taking a walk with the dog. Take time to rest and recharge because caregiving affects the whole family.

Follow the link for more information: http://caregiveraction.org/family-caregiver-toolbox
Free firewood and winter hours at the Zoo
The Sedgwick County Zoo has partnered with Westar Energy and the City of Wichita to provide free firewood and mulch now through February 2018. Firewood and mulch will be available daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Zoo’s north parking lot and new wood will be delivered between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily. Chainsaws, splitters, and other mechanical equipment are not permitted in the parking lot. 

As we move into the colder months, the Zoo’s winter hours come into effect. Visitors may enjoy the Zoo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, now through February 2018.  
Projects in District 5
Bridge Construction on 103  rd St. South between Webb and Greenwich.
  • Road closed October 2.
  • Expected to reopen in early December.
Crews continue to work on the Kellogg/ I-235 interchange rebuild. This first phase is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
Update on Kellogg/ 235 interchange
Project updates can be found at www.235red.org and include:

  • The currently closed east bound exit ramp on Kellogg to West Street should open for traffic by Thanksgiving. 
County offices to close for holiday
Sedgwick County offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving. Emergency services will be available by dialing or texting 9-1-1. 
INTRUST Bank Arena’s north entrance open again
Entrance C reopened on Monday, November 13. Event goers will enjoy the additional square footage of the lobby and exterior plaza area, six sets of entrance doors – one for premium seating entrance, and staircases from the lobby to the main concourse and from the main concourse to the upper concourse.

The project to expand Entrance C took a little more than seven months to complete and cost $1.682 million. 
County leaders make an appearance at the Veterans Day parade
County commissioners along with the County Manager participated in the annual Veterans Day parade in Wichita on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Sedgwick County Government is proud to serve our community and honor our veterans.  
Area youth recognized for leadership
More than 2,300 students in the Wichita Public School district participate in the Junior ROTC program. Select participants came to a recent commission meeting to help bring recognition to Wichita Junior ROTC Week, Nov. 5 through 11. The Junior ROTC and its leadership programs build citizenship and good character in youth and cadets who move on to become future leaders.  

Commissioners were able to attend the Junior ROTC and Leadership Program Ceremony in honor of our veterans on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Century II. Cadet units marched and passed in review showcasing their development. Colonel Joshua Olson, Commander at McConnell Air Force Base, provided keynote remarks. 
Contact  Commissioner Jim Howel l: 
316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203
 
Contact Public Information Officer:
Kate Flavin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203
 
Contact Corporate Communications Manager:
Keturah Austin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203