Absentee voters left waiting in Missouri

Absentee voters left waiting in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – We have been hearing of concerns about people not receiving absentee and mail-in ballots for the primary election.

So, KCTV5’s Kaci Jones looked into the process of voting in this election.

This is the first time Missouri has allowed mail-in voting, creating a heavier workload for local election boards.

We are just days away from the election and some voters said they still waiting on absentee ballots, though.

Helen Hardiman is in the high-risk category for COVID-19. She requested and received an absentee ballot. A day later, she dropped it in the mail. Then, she called the Kansas City Board of Elections to confirm.

“Two days ago and I asked them and they said, ‘We don’t even have yours on here. If we didn’t get it by the 22nd, then we don’t have it and you can’t use the absentee ballot.’”

Hardiman spent her early years as a Freedom Rider advocating for equal voting rights. She said there’s a lot of confusion about this election.

“This is the first time I’ve that I’ve ever had this problem with voting,” she said. “The first time. And I’m 70 years old, so something is wrong.”

We are in a pandemic, yes, but what else is different this time? Well, for the first time Missouri has allowed mail-in ballots because of coronavirus concerns.

Lauri Ealom, Democratic Director of the Kansas City Election Board said her office mailed out ballots six weeks ago that still have not reached voters. She and her staff have been hand delivering them to help close the gap.

“Missouri is not a mail-in ballot state,” she said. “I mean, we’re flooded. We’ve had over 10,000, which is a 150% increase in comparison to what we had four years ago.”

She said, “States that do mail-in ballot voting have provisions, software. They have equipment that assists with that task. We have a one-woman operation with a bunch of seasonal people.”

Hardiman dropped off her ballot in person to make sure her vote counts. She has a message for other absentee voters as confusion continues, too.

“Go to the polls,” she said, “or call someone and have them pick you up and take you to the polls. We can figure out some way to get you there, but you need to vote.”

If you have an absentee ballot, you can come cast it at the Kansas City Election Board at Union Station on Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon and on Monday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Polls officially open Tuesday at 6 a.m.