Only a few hundred apply to vote on downtown streetcar taxing district

Fewer than 500 people could determine whether Kansas City establishes a special downtown streetcar taxing district.

As of Friday afternoon, just under 400 people living within the proposed streetcar district boundaries had applied to the Jackson County court administrator for ballots for the unusual mail-in election later this summer.

Officials estimate about 3,200 active registered voters live in the proposed streetcar district.

The deadline to apply for a ballot is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

To apply for a ballot, residents living within the downtown boundaries must be registered to vote with the Kansas City election board. But there’s still time to qualify.

Downtown residents can register to vote at the election board on Monday or Tuesday, then return an application with proof of registration to the court prior to the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline. The election board is in the basement of Union Station.

“My goal is to make sure as many people get involved in the election as possible,” said David Johnson, a downtown resident and streetcar advocate.

Johnson has been visiting downtown residential buildings to get the word out, but he notes that downtown rarely has a big voter turnout, even in conventional elections.

Earlier this month, a letter from Mayor Sly James was sent to about 3,400 downtown residents, including frequent voters and others, reminding them that they have to apply in writing for a ballot if they wish to vote on the streetcar district’s creation. The James mailing was paid for by the streetcar campaign committee, ConnectKC, and not by city taxpayers.

This election just concerns the district’s creation. If it passes, a subsequent election is expected later this year, in which voters would decide on property tax and sales tax increases to help pay for the $100 million streetcar system.

For this first election, ballots will be mailed to eligible voters on or about June 19 and are due back by July 31.

Eligible registered voters still wishing to apply for a ballot can go to www.16thcircuit.org/streetcar or can visit the Jackson County Courthouse, 415 E. 12th St., Room 303.