Kansas City mayor turned away from polls try­ing to vote

The Kansas City Star - - Front Page - BY ALLISON KITE, ROBERT A. CRONKLETON AND GLENN E. RICE [email protected]­star.com bcron­kle­[email protected]­star.com [email protected]­star.com

Mo­ments af­ter mak­ing a plea for peo­ple to get out and vote in the Mis­souri pri­mary Tues­day, Kansas City Mayor Quin­ton Lucas was turned away from the polls and told he “wasn’t in the sys­tem,” the mayor said.

Lucas tried to cast his vote be­fore 7 a.m. at Mount Pleas­ant Bap­tist Church at 22nd and Olive streets, where he said he has voted since 2009. Soon af­ter, he posted a mes­sage on Twit­ter say­ing he was not al­lowed to cast a bal­lot be­cause a poll worker could not find his regis­tra­tion.

Elec­tion of­fi­cials later blamed the in­ci­dent on a mis­take by a poll worker, and Lucas re­turned later in the day and voted. But the mayor said the in­ci­dent pointed to a larger prob­lem in how elec­tions are run.

“I made a video this morn­ing about the im­por­tance of vot­ing and then got turned away be­cause I wasn’t in the sys­tem even though I’ve voted there for 11 years, in­clud­ing for my­self four times!” Lucas said.

When Lucas tried to vote, a poll worker searched his name us­ing a util­ity bill he brought but came up empty, as if Lucas weren’t reg­is­tered.

Af­ter wait­ing a few min­utes, Lucas showed his Kansas City Board of Po­lice Com­mis­sion­ers’ ID. But he was told that they still were not find­ing him.

Later, poll work­ers of­fered a pro­vi­sional bal­lot to the mayor, who re­fused, say­ing he wanted to make sure his vote was reg­is­tered so that if any­one checked his record it would show he voted. In the Novem­ber 2018 midterm elec­tion, 4,494 in­di­vid­u­als cast pro­vi­sional bal­lots be­cause they weren’t show­ing up on the voter roll, and 1,529 ended up be­ing counted.

“If the mayor can get turned away, that would mean any

body can … so it’s some­thing we all need to try to ad­dress,” Lucas said.

When Lucas re­turned to vote, he used his pass­port as his ID. He de­clined to say whom he voted for.

“A lot of peo­ple won’t come back ei­ther be­cause they have to go to work or be­cause it has the op­por­tu­nity to be a slightly em­bar­rass­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Lucas said.

Sec­re­tary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, said Tues­day af­ter­noon he would have “sus­pected that was be­neath the mayor” to com­plain about the poll worker. He said the mayor was not “turned away,” but rather that he de­clined help.

“It just seems wrong to me for the mayor to go af­ter a poll worker,” Ashcroft told The Star. “I un­der­stand that this is the sea­son of silly par­ti­san pol­i­tics, but leave the poll worker out.”

Af­ter he voted, Lucas said it was “dis­ap­point­ing (Ashcroft) would say such a thing.”

“Re­spect­fully, the sec­re­tary doesn’t know what he’s talk­ing about,” Lucas said. “That’s all I have to say. I’ve ac­tu­ally never met him. I’m sure he’s a per­fectly nice per­son who has no idea what my morn­ing was like to­day.”

‘ONLY IS­SUE’

Lauri Ealom, the Demo­cratic di­rec­tor of the Kansas City Board of Elec­tions, said the poll worker en­tered Lucas’ first and last names in the wrong or­der.

“He put his last name in as his first name and his first name in as his last name,” she said.

Ealom said that no one else had been turned away from Lucas’ polling place and that vot­ing was run­ning smoothly early Tues­day morn­ing.

“That’s the only is­sue that we’ve had this morn­ing,” Ealom said.

Lucas said he re­ceived a phone call about 45 min­utes af­ter he left the polling lo­ca­tion in­form­ing him of the mix-up. He ac­knowl­edged that most Kansas Ci­tians wouldn’t re­ceive such a call.

In a fol­low-up tweet, Lucas clar­i­fied the mes­sage in his ini­tial post.

“By the way, me writ­ing ‘but that’s okay,’ was me be­ing Mid­west­ern and pas­sive ag­gres­sive. It’s re­ally not okay,” he wrote.

Ashcroft con­firmed the poll worker’s er­ror, but said Lucas re­fused help from the polling place’s su­per­vi­sor, who suc­cess­fully pulled up his regis­tra­tion. Ashcroft said Lucas could have voted nor­mally.

“I mean, it would have been faster for him to vote than it took him to do his tweet about his prob­lem vot­ing, sup­posed prob­lem,” Ashcroft said.

Lucas’ spokes­woman Mor­gan Said said in a state­ment that was in­ac­cu­rate. She said no one at the polling lo­ca­tion was iden­ti­fied as a su­per­vi­sor.

The in­ci­dent should serve as a wake-up call when it comes to our elec­tions, Lucas said.

“A lot of us in this re­gion are used to folks talk­ing about vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties; talk­ing about those sort of is­sues,” Lucas said. “I think the big­gest threat to Amer­i­can elec­tions is that Amer­i­can’s can’t vote too of­ten. Un­for­tu­nately that was the sit­u­a­tion I ran into this morn­ing.”

Lucas said he hoped to fol­low up with the Elec­tion Board and others to make sure that this doesn’t hap­pen again.

“We need to find a way to make sure it works all the time,” Lucas said.

CHRIS OCH­SNER [email protected]­star.com

Kansas City Mayor Quin­ton Lucas, cen­ter, fi­nally got to vote Tues­day af­ter­noon.

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