Kansas City Woman Without Photo ID Told 'You Can't Vote' — She Knew That Was Wrong

Aug 9, 2017

A Kansas City woman who says she intentionally went to the polls Tuesday morning without a photo ID, says she was first told erroneously by poll workers that she could not vote. When she insisted she could still cast a provisional ballot, she says an election judge checked a voting manual and then allowed her to vote on a paper ballot. 

The woman, Evelyn Maddox, happens to be co-president of the local League of Women Voters chapter. She went to the polls without a photo ID, she says, to see if poll workers would know what to do. Last week on KCUR's Up to Date, Maddox expressed worry about Missouri's new voter ID law, in part, because of concerns poll workers have not been sufficiently trained on the new rules.  

"I know we have dedicated poll workers, but they can only do as well as they are trained by local election boards," Maddox said outside her polling place in Kansas City's Southmoreland neighborhood. "And local election boards can only do as well as the leadership of the Secretary of State has provided."

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft insisted on St. Louis Public Radio Monday his office had spent weeks traveling the state training election officials about the new rules. 

"We've been in conversation with every election authority across the state, we've had eight regional meetings, multiple teleconferences. I'm excited because I think there has been a lot of concern and angst by some people, and I think we're going to look back Wednesday morning and say, 'Hey, that worked,'" Ashcroft said. 

But Maddox said her experience suggests more training may be in order. Still, she praised the election judge who addressed her concerns after she was first told she couldn't vote. Maddox said the judge at her polling place was "systematic and methodical" about working through the problem. 

"It's true: everybody can vote. But they can vote if only the poll workers know what to do," Maddox said. She said she suspects poll workers across the state may lack knowledge on the intricacies of the new voter ID law. 

Roughly 50 counties in the state, including counties around both Kansas City and St. Louis, held special elections Tuesday.

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. He can be reached at kyle@kcur.org. KCUR's Brian Ellison contributed reporting for this story.