Voter Turnout For KC Ballot Disappointing Or Impressive, Depending On The County

Apr 5, 2017

About 60,000 Kansas Citians voted on Tuesday.
Credit Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners

A total of about 60,000 Kansas Citians voted in yesterday’s municipal elections, according to turnout figures from election boards. Kansas City voters in Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties approved $800 million in general obligation bonds, a one-eighth cent sales tax for development on the city’s east side and lessened penalties for marijuana possession.

Shawn Kieffer from the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners says he’s disappointed with the 18 percent turnout from Jackson County.

“It was much lower than we anticipated. There was $800 million in general obligation bonds on the ballot, and we just thought there’d be a better turnout.”

In Clay County, 13,000 people in the Kansas City, Missouri city limits cast votes. Patty Lamb from the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners says this number, about 13 percent of eligible voters, is typical for a municipal election at this time of year.  In Clay County elections outside Kansas City, she says almost the same percentage voted in other elections such as hospital and school district board positions.

But Chris Hershey from the Platte County Board of Elections was more impressed with his voter turnout numbers. In Platte County, Kansas Citians cast about 7000 votes, and Hershey says the importance of the city's ballot questions probably did drive up turnout.

“Countywide we saw about 20 percent of the eligible voters come to vote yesterday and that is unusual for a general municipal election. Normally, we see more around 10 to 12 percent,” says Hershey.

"We had a lot of interest actually from people who weren't in Kansas City who called and wanted to vote on those questions," he adds.

An earnings tax ballot brought out almost the same number of Kansas Citians last year, but the number is about a 50 percent increase over the 2015 mayoral race.

Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.