Elections

‘I was at the right location’: Some KC voters who moved recently held up at polls

Libby Crews thought she was all set to vote Tuesday morning at her new polling location after she moved from one home to another within Kansas City about a year ago.

She had filed a change of address with the Kansas City Election Board before the October deadline. She received a new voter registration card with her updated south Kansas City address. She even checked the website for her polling location — multiple times.

But when she got to a polling site check-in table, she was told she was at the wrong location.

“I was a little confused,” Crews said. “I had two other things from the election board saying that I was at the right location.”

Several people told The Star that they ran into similar problems, with changes they made to their voter registrations not being reflected on the voter rosters.

The problem at times appeared to be systemic. Nearly a dozen voters at one polling site were taken out of line, delayed and told their registration was “inactive” before poll workers eventually determined their registration was correct — but only after a half-hour of hassle and paperwork.

One voter at Central United Methodist Church, near Brookside Boulevard, said poll workers explained that anyone who registered from August to October was not updated on the voter rolls.

It was one of several problems Kansas City-area voters faced Tuesday, along with long lines, malfunctioning ballot boxes, and polling workers wrongly asking for photo ID.

Crews was able to vote after a 15-minute delay and after filling out a new voter registration. But throughout the wait, she wondered if she was going to be given a ballot or whether she would have to leave so she wouldn’t be late to work.

“I think it’s frustrating,” she said. “I think it can be difficult to vote or even change that information. I think part of the election board’s role should be making voting as simple and easy as possible.”

Patrick Grantello was irate about a voting experience he shared with ProPublica’s Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country.

Grantello had voted in Midtown Kansas City for 16 years but changed his registration when he moved to another Kansas City address in Platte County early this year.

He said he received a Kansas City Election Board voter ID card with his new address.

Here’s where he ran into trouble: the Kansas City Election Board serves the city south of the Missouri River while the Platte County Election Board serves part of the city north of the Missouri River.

When Grantello tried to vote at Line Creek Community Center, he was told that the Kansas City Election Board had not passed the information along to the Platte County Election Board. He was given no option to vote provisionally and he left, but later went back.

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.

Shawn Kieffer, director at the Kansas City Election Board, said he hadn’t heard of any of these problems until contacted by The Star.

“I’ll have to look into it later this week,” he said.

Kieffer said that when people move, they should register with the election board that serves the jurisdiction where their new home is located.

“But if people do come to us, we would let them fill it out and try to get it to the different jurisdiction,” he said, adding that he didn’t know why the information didn’t get forwarded.

Rachel Bond had a different problem with her voter registration in Kansas City.

She changed addresses this year and said the Kansas City Election Board sent her confirmation of the correct address and new polling place at 66th Street and Holmes Road.

But when she went to vote, a polling station iPad showed her former address and polling location, so election workers required her to file a provisional ballot. She saw others in line having to do the same thing despite having voter cards with the correct location.

“I called the election board to file a complaint and they stated that my address was correct in the system and that the polling workers should have called to confirm my address before jumping to having me complete a provisional ballot,” Bond told The Star.

Bond said she thought the poll workers were misinformed and needed better training on how to handle such situations.

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

“We haven’t heard of any widespread issues at all,” said Chrissy Peters, an election director with the secretary of state’s office.

“There could be a situation where a voter was in a DMV office and registers,” Peters said. “There is a way for our local election officers to check with the DMV.”

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

If you had trouble voting, or if you saw something you want to tell us about, here’s how.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments