Elections

Courtesy of Anna Cole

It's Election Day, which has us thinking about those times in our childhood when we ran for office, or managed our best friend's campaign. Back when things were simpler ... right?

Wrong, says Anna Cole. 

As a fifth grader at Bryant Elementary School in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, Cole ran for school president.

It was the fall of 1991, and Cole was geared up. After getting into student council in the third grade, then progressing to treasurer in fourth, she was ready for higher office.

Anzacosf2010 / Wikimedia Commons

Do you get a thrill of wearing your "I Voted" sticker on Election Day? If so, transit officials hope to make it simpler for you to vote Tuesday in the Kansas City metro.

Some 134,000 people voted early in Johnson County, Kansas, already (Missouri doesn't have early voting.)

But for anyone who couldn't vote early, buses from the major four systems in the region will be free all day Tuesday.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

It’s a campaign without ads. There are no TV spots or mailers. The only people voting are the 165 Kansas lawmakers choosing their new leaders.

“Leadership races are the most inside of inside baseball,” says University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis.

Loomis says you almost have to be a legislative nerd to have heard of the candidates for Kansas House speaker or Senate president, but they get to make committee assignments and control the chamber.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3 / File

Missouri's governor race has already seen the most ad spending of any race in America, and the U.S. Senate race between Roy Blunt and Jason Kander has been very competitive. But even though those races have gotten the lion's share of political coverage, initiatives and measures on the ballot in Missouri also could have big impacts.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Just days before the November 8 election, Democratic organizers and elected officials gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, to urge people to keep volunteering and not let down their efforts. 

Saturday's "Nasty Women Unite" rally in downtown Kansas City featured an impressive lineup of speakers — U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams, and City Councilwomen Jolie Justus and Alissia Canady, to name a few. 

Bill Weld in Kansas City
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the Libertarian party vice presidential nominee, told a rally of 200 people in midtown Kansas City Thursday that only he and his running-mate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, could change Washington.

Calling political paralysis “the elephant and the donkey in the room,” Weld said something needs to be done to reign in the major parties’ hold on power.

KTrimble / Wikimedia Commons

On this year's extensive Missouri ballot, voters will find an item that could reshape the way the state's political campaigns are financed. Constitutional Amendment 2 would place limits on contributions to political parties or campaigns to elect candidates for state or judicial offices in Missouri.

Webmaster102 / Wikimedia Commons

One outcome of the 2016 elections that we know already: the make-up of the Kansas Legislature will be different.

That raises some questions, like this one our Kansas elections coverage team got from Cynthia in Leawood:

Is it possible that Kansas will elect enough moderates to reverse the open carry gun policies in KS, especially on college campuses? Would Brownback veto such a measure?

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

For many Missouri health advocates, an increase in the state’s tobacco tax is long overdue.

At 17 cents per cigarette pack, it’s the lowest in the country by far – a fraction of the tax in many states. And it hasn’t changed since 1993.

Groups like the American Lung Association say Missouri’s low cigarette prices are a major reason the state has one of the highest smoking rates in the country. Twenty-two percent of Missouri adults smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CC0 Public Domain

As Election Day closes in, it's time to get down to brass tacks. 

 

Our collaborative team covering elections in Kansas has been answering your questions, big and small. 

 

Katie in Shawnee has the essential question: 

 

“What’s the best place to find who will be on the ticket for my district, and what’s the best way to look at their platform?”

 

American Psychological Association

On November 8, Missouri voters will decide on Constitutional Amendment 2. If passed, it would limit campaign contributions and, proponents say, the political sway of big-money donors. Also, if you think you're the only one getting stressed out by the presidential election, think again.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

New campaign finance reports are calling into question Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s insistence that he’s not involved in an effort to oust several Kansas Supreme Court justices.

Reports filed this week show that Brownback’s Road Map PAC contributed $65,000 to Kansans for Life in September and October, bringing the total since the first of the year to $110,300.

Kansas City Election Board

OK, Kansas City. It’s time to go online, visit your local election authority’s website, print off a sample ballot and do your research.

Lauri Ealom with the Kansas City Election Board is predicting long, long lines on Tuesday if people aren’t prepared.

That’s because the ballot is 18 inches long.

Front and back.

Courtesy Ry Kincaid

When he debuted his one-man show at Kansas City’s Fringe Festival in the summer of 2015, Ry Kincaid was already thinking ahead to the 2016 election. No one, however, could have foreseen the need for entertaining relief would be so acute.

Unlike everything else in this season’s torturous exercise in democracy, Kincaid’s Presidential Briefs is good-hearted humor. In writing 44 original songs – one for each United States president – all performed in under an hour, Kincaid was partly trying to be helpful.

Mid-Continent Public Library

Mid-Continent Public Library is asking voters in its district in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties to approve a property tax levy to build and upgrade facilities and provide more programs and longer hours.

If approved, Proposition L  would increase property taxes eight-cents per $100. For a household that makes $150,000 per year, this would be a yearly increase of $22.80 per year, and would result in an additional ten million dollars for the library. 

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio/File Photos

Missouri will have a new secretary of state in January, because incumbent Democrat Jason Kander is running for the U.S. Senate. Barring a third-party upset, his successor will be a Republican with a last name very familiar to Missourians, or a Democrat known mainly to St. Louis-area TV viewers. 

BigStock Images

Most of us have a week to go before the Big Vote. Kansans can cast their ballots early (and many are doing so), but Missourians have to wait until Nov. 8. For everyone who wants to vote on Election Day, here are some things you need to know:

1. What’s my registration status?

It doesn’t hurt to check before you go.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

With Election Day a week away, we check in with local political reporters for analysis of elections in Kansas and Missouri. Then, political commentator E.J. Dionne discusses the presidential campaign and themes from his book Why the Right Went Wrong. We finish with this week's Statehouse Blend Kansasfeaturing state Rep.

Hawley/Hensley
Courtesy of Hawley campaign; Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Every Missouri attorney general since 1969 has sought higher office at the conclusion of their term, just as gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster is doing this year. Even so, the race to be the next attorney general hasn’t received much attention. Perhaps it should; this year’s two major candidates have completely different ideas about what the job even is.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The number of registered voters in Kansas has risen by more than 40,000 since the 2012 presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s office. But it’s a different story in Wyandotte County. Even though the population of the big county in the Kansas City metro is growing, voter registrations are down by around 4,000 from four years ago.

In the days before the Oct. 18 registration deadline, a few volunteers were working to change that. They had unfolded a table in front of a Dollar Tree store to register voters in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Education political action committees in Kansas are spreading around tens of thousands of dollars to help both conservative and moderate legislative candidates.

There are two big education political action committees in Kansas and they back very different candidates.

The Kansas NEA PAC is funded by contributions solicited by the union and in the last reporting period made about $29,000 in campaign contributions and spent $12,400 on polling.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Out on the campaign trail, there are a couple of competing narratives about what’s going on with the Kansas budget.

Both acknowledge that plummeting revenues have delayed road projects, increased the state’s bond debt and forced cuts in higher education, healthcare and safety net programs for poor Kansans.

But that’s where the stories diverge.

Moderate Republicans and Democrats running for the Legislature are blaming the 2012 income tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback for crashing the state budget.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Senate hopeful Jason Kander has returned $25,000 in campaign contributions that are connected to an alleged straw donor system by a prominent Democratic law firm.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

In his third and last stop of the day, Missouri gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens made a campaign appearance in Kansas City Sunday night, after stops in both Springfield and St. Louis.

In what campaign workers described as one of the more crowded rallies of the day, over 130 people gathered for the event, with women making up about half of the crowd, many holding pink campaign signs reading "Women for Greitens."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined Greitens on the campaign trail.

Nearly every voter in Missouri is aware of the contests for president and governor.

But there are also 48 trial and appellate judges who are hoping to remain on the bench through retention elections. 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt may currently be Missouri's freshman senator but he has worked in the Capitol since 1997. Early in his career, he served as chief deputy whip for the GOP, eventually becoming House majority leader in 2005 and 2006.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday denied ownership of pro-tobacco legislation that he tried to place in a homeland security bill in 2002, a criticism that has dogged him for a decade.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Against the backdrop of a presidential election in which gender issues have come to the fore, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Koster was in Kansas City Wednesday to meet with women business leaders.

Koster says he’s proud of both the gender balance and pay equity in the attorney general’s office. He’d like to see equal pay protection extended to all Missouri women.

“We want to make sure that work environments are family friendly,” Koster says.

programwitch / Flickr-CC

The statewide team that's collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions.

One question that seems to come up almost every election season, is why people sometimes vote against their own best interests — specifically their economic interests. 

Diane Wahto of Wichita asked it this way: 

Why do Kansans often vote against their best interests? ...

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

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