Emporia voters had the opportunity to vote ahead of the Nov. 5 general election on Saturday.

For the second year, the Lyon County Election Office offered local registered voters a special opportunity to cast early ballots prior to the start of advance voting on Monday.

A temporary off-site polling station set up at the Flinthills Mall drew early voters who were presented with a setup similar to what voters will see at polling stations on Election Day.

Lyon County Clerk Tammy Vopat said the new polling machines the county purchased and began using in 2018 allow machine-based early voting that was not possible with the county’s old equipment.

“The new equipment we purchased came with so many new options, including the ability to allow early voting; which is more convenient for a lot of people,” she said.

The addition of an on-site tabulator allows ballots to be stored securely until Election Day. At 7 p.m. on Election Day, when all of the data is collected from machines at all polling stations, results from the advance ballots are also reported.

Vopat said turnout was comparable to last year’s inaugural Saturday voting event.

“Turnout has been great,” she said. “Within the first two hours, we had more than 115 voters. I’d love to see us beat last year’s number, and I think we’re on track to do so.”

Response was so positive, Vopat said it is clear the public appreciates the ease and convenience offsite Saturday polling provides.

“We’ve had such positive response from voters,” she said. “We are glad to offer Saturday voting, and we always will offer it from now on.”

Kelly and Samuel Barnett brought their two young daughters, Cora and Lucille, along to watch their parents vote, something made possible by the Saturday voting opportunity.

“My husband and I try to always bring our children because it is important for them to see us voting,” Kelly Barnett said. “Actions make a larger impact than just talking about it. Particularly raising two young women, we have felt it was important for them to appreciate the right to vote and want them to value being allowed to make that contribution.”

Denise Dorcey took advantage of the convenient location and timing to cast her ballot early. Dorcey had a booth at the Interactive Health Fair, which was also taking place at the Flinthills Mall on Saturday morning.

“I love that we have voting available on Saturday, especially for people who work during the week,” she said. “It’s easy, it’s convenient and more people can vote.”

Dorcey also said she was surprised to see a question about a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

According to the Kansas Secretary of State website, the amendment, called Eliminate the Census Adjustment, will “eliminate the adjustment of census taken by the United States census bureau regarding non-resident military personnel and non-resident students when re-apportioning the Kansas senate and house of representatives.”

“I wish I had seen information about the constitutional amendment beforehand,” Dorcey said. “I felt unprepared to vote on that. I hope more information is put out before the general election so voters are better informed.”

More information about the proposed amendment can be found at sos.kansas.gov/elections.

In addition to the state constitutional amendment, Emporians are voting on members of city council, school board and the local school bond issue.

Advance voting at the Lyon County Courthouse begins today and runs until noon Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 5.

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