Kansas City reducing polling places, increasing cleaning for upcoming election day

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missourians are just two weeks out from General Municipal Election Day. During this public health emergency, voters will see some changes, like how and where to vote.

The Kansas City Board of Elections says there are unprecedented preparations and changes for this pandemic election.

“Honestly, this feels like 10 elections in one,” Lauri Ealom, director with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners, said. “It’s very challenging.”

The June 2 election will feature a proposed tax increase for the Kansas City Fire Department as well as address some school district issues. In some areas outside the city, there are also city council races. But when you head in to vote, things will look different than usual.

“They will see markers on the ground that ensures they’re six feet apart that we’ve measured out for the poll workers. They will see barrier protectors at every poll,” Ealom said.

To help with social distancing, Kansas City will also have only 28 polling places. They’re located at larger spaces, like community centers and schools, so that voting stations can be spread apart.  Having fewer sites also helps ensure there are enough election judges to go around.

“Just be prepared. Kansas City Election Board has gone above and beyond in preparation for safety, not only of poll workers, but also voters. And your vote does count, but so does your safety,” Ealom said.

Paper ballot voters will be given throw-away pencils. For electronic voting, you’ll use the same stylus to sign in and to vote. You will then put it in a bucket for cleaning after you’ve finished.

“We are safer and cleaner now than I think in any election has ever been thus far,” Ealom said.

Another big change is a jump in absentee voting numbers. The Kansas City Election Board has seen nearly 700 in-person absentee ballots cast so far, and another 2,600 voters have requested absentee ballots by mail.  

Friends Rita Armstrong and Ann Marshall decided it was best to vote early to limit their personal risk.

“I just don’t want to be around crowds because even going to the grocery store, some people are real good, and some people don’t wear masks. And I just look out for myself,” Marhsall said.

The ladies are also thankful to see the extra precautions in place to make voting safe.

“People are very cautious about taking care and doing the right thing,” Armstrong said.

If you want to vote absentee, you can do so in-person at the election office through June 1. Voters only have until Wednesday, May 20 at 5 p.m. to request an absentee ballot by mail.  

You should have received a mailer about your new polling place, but if you need to check, you can verify it online on the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners’ website.

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