Elections

‘Every vote matters’: Missouri election results not released till last ballot was cast

Young Northland voters explain why they stood in long lines to vote

Long lines didn't deter this pair of young Kansas City natives from getting out there and voting on Election Day in Kansas City.
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Long lines didn't deter this pair of young Kansas City natives from getting out there and voting on Election Day in Kansas City.

Missouri voters were forced to wait for election results hours after polls closed Tuesday because Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced his office would not release any results until all voters had cast their ballots.

“We will not post any results until the last Missourian has cast their vote,” Ashcroft posted on Twitter.

A little before 9 p.m., he tweeted: “We are estimating the final vote cast will be after 9:30 p.m. Please be patient. Every vote matters.” Polls closed at 7 p.m.

At 9:33, Ashcroft tweeted that all ballots had been cast.

 

The delay added to other issues that plagued Kansas City Tuesday, including broken voting machines, confusion over voter ID law, and at least one polling location using the wrong ballots.

With high voter turnout, some voters faced waits up to an hour.

Just before noon, Ashcroft acknowledged the problems in a Twitter post.

“Several polling places are reporting problems with machines counting ballots,” the tweet said. “Local election officials are aware and working to fix. Your vote will be counted! Please follow poll workers’ instructions and know your vote is secure!”

Some voters, however, were wary.

In Clay County, the problems began at 6 a.m., when polls opened, at one Excelsior Springs polling site.

Clay County election officials confirmed that about a dozen of their boxes were not operating for up to three hours in the morning. Officials blamed some of the problems on poll workers not pushing the right buttons on machines that are two years old.

When the lone ballot machine at the Centerview polling location in Raymore stopped working, longtime voter Mark Liggat said, he couldn’t believe the alternative election officials suggested.

“They began taking ballots out of the machine and placing them into a cardboard box,” Liggat says. “Nothing more than a cardboard box with a slot on top of it.”

Liggat had been waiting in line for about an hour when he realized the line of “hundreds and hundreds of people” had begun to slow down to a crawl. He, along with some other voters, did not put his ballot in the box.

At the polling location at the Don Bosco Senior Center, several machines wouldn’t accept ballots because they had the wrong precinct number, said Kevin Worley of Kansas City.

Shawn Kieffer, a director with the Kansas City Election Board, said a technician was sent to the location and if the ballots were marked for the wrong precinct, the votes would be moved over to a correct ballot.

Voter ID also caused some confusion. Some Missouri voters were allegedly told they did not have proper identification to vote, despite having the right documents.

Sheryl Porter says she was told at about 9 a.m. at the St. Sabinah polling place in Cass County that she needed a photo ID to vote, though she had already presented a voter registration card.

“I told her the information she was sharing was not correct,” Porter said.

In Missouri, a voter registration card satisfies the voter ID requirement. Voters can also present a college identification, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or any other government document — without a photo — that confirms a name and address.

Corey Dillon, the Democratic director of the Jackson County Election Board, said she received reports of identification issues, but that a number of the cases were a misunderstanding between poll notification and voter registration cards.

“Poll notification cards are not an acceptable ID. They never have been.”

As for registration problems, Patrick Grantello, who moved from midtown to Platte County early this year, shared his frustration with ProPublica’s Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country.

He said he received a KC Election Board voter ID card with his new address. But the KC board serves the city south of the Missouri River while the Platte County Election Board serves part of the city north of the river.

When Grantello tried to vote at Line Creek Community Center, he was told that his information had not been sent to the Platte County board. He was given no option to vote provisionally and he left, but later returned.

He said the election worker told him repeatedly that his vote wouldn’t count, until Grantello insisted he should get a provisional ballot.

“I’ve been registered for 16 years, and never had a problem until today,” he said.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office said that it had not received many complaints about problems from voters registering through the Secretary of State’s website or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Despite issues, voters were resilient.

Dan Magrone of Kansas City had to wait for nearly an hour before receiving his ballot at Central Presbyterian Church in midtown.

“The line was like Disneyland in there at 6 a.m.,” Magrone said. “I just wanted to be sure my voice was heard because we need changes.”

Fewer problems were reported in Johnson County, which suffered an embarrassing delay reporting results in the Aug. 7 primary due to a software problem with the county’s new vote reporting system.

The vendor, Election Systems & Software, fixed the problem this fall. On Tuesday night, Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said the vote reporting system was working as designed.

“This was where we had the problem before. Didn’t happen (tonight). We’re good. We’re good.”

This story includes information that started with a tip from ProPublica’s Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country.

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