Voters cite problems with registration, ballot at Kansas City polls

Bob Strohm cast his vote Tuesday at Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th St.
Bob Strohm cast his vote Tuesday at Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th St. Special to the Star

As Jim Dudley of Kansas City flipped over his paper ballot in Tuesday’s primary election to continue voting on the second page, he noticed something odd — some answers had already been filled out.

“I was shocked when I saw it, that’s for sure,” Dudley said. He turned to his wife and showed her his ballot.

Jim and Leesa Dudley showed up at 6:10 a.m. at Summit View Church, 801 W. 97th St., to vote.

“You get up and get another one and you show that to them,” his wife told him.

An election worker told them it had already happened, she said. It was unclear whether the election worker meant this election or a previous one.

Election workers took his ballot and gave him a new one. The original ballot was marked spoiled and placed in a manila envelope.

“I think the process is damaged,” Leesa Dudley said. “We need a new process.”

Shawn Kieffer, a director with the Kansas City Election Board, said he would have to examine the ballot before determining what happened.

“There is maybe the slightest possibility that maybe they had one of our test ballots, but we keep those separately and away from the machines once we test them,” Kieffer said. “But it is highly unlikely. But stranger things have happened.”

That wasn’t the only problem that Kansas City voters said occurred at the polls on Tuesday.

Taylor Bolls of Kansas City ran into issues when she went to vote shortly before 8 a.m. at St. James Church at 8107 Holmes Road.

Bolls and her partner had to wait for election workers to solve an inaccurate address on their voter registrations.

This was despite previous attempts to update her voter registration after she moved within Jackson County. Her latest attempt was Monday, when she contacted the Kansas City Election Board directly after noticing her address was wrong on the Missouri Secretary of State website.

She and her partner eventually filled out affidavits so they could vote. Several other voters were having similar issues with their registration at the polling location.

“It does make me even more concerned about our election process here in Missouri and nationally,” she said. “I don’t think there’s enough being done to make sure voters aren’t accidentally hindered or suppressed.”

Issues with voter registrations happen with every election, Kieffer said. He said polling locations sometimes don’t get the latest updates before the election.

He said it’s a non-issue because they were allowed to vote. Their affidavits will be used to update their voter registration following the election. He urged voters to update their voter registration as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute issues.

In Bolls’ case, she tried updating her registration in June.

In the month of June, the Kansas City Election Board received more than 25,000 voter registration affidavits that it had to process, so her affidavit could have been missed or placed in a pile for more information to be gathered, Kieffer said.

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