Officials gear up for election during pandemic

Officials gear up for election during pandemic

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Officials are gearing up for another election as coronavirus concerns continue.

On Friday, KCTV5’s Kaci Jones went to the Kansas City Election Board at Union Station to see what was being done to keep people safe.

It is probably one of the busiest offices in town as officials prepare for the second election in a pandemic. There are a lot of precautions being taken, including social distancing and personal protective equipment. They’re the new normal at the polls.

Lauri Ealom, Democratic Director of the Kansas City Election Board, said her office is taking many safety precautions like single-use pencils and enhanced sterilization.

“We still will have the markings, the 6-foot markings, on the floors,” she said. “The little bit of a difference is that we’ve been able to get masks for voters if in fact they may not have one.”

You can also pick one of 50 locations to vote.

“It’s mostly schools and community centers,” Ealom said. “You’re safer coming to the poll and being there for 10 minutes than you are at the grocery store.”

For voters who qualify, absentee ballots had to be requested by the second Wednesday before election day. Also, for the first time Missouri has allowed mail-in ballots that must be notarized and received by the close of business on Election Day.

Kendra Burgess, Policy Director for The Whole Person on Main Street, said their office will notarize both absentee and mail-in ballots. The location is also a central polling place.

“S.B. 631 did not authorize free notarizations for mail-in ballots and so that’s the reason why we felt the need to offer this free service to the public,” she said. “We want to increase voting access for everyone. We think it’s a really important election this year but of course everyone needs the right to be able to vote.”

Expanding voting options by mail has been heavily criticized by President Donald Trump, who says it opens up the door to voter fraud.

”The issue in Kansas City is not people voting two or three times or the dead voting, it’s that people don’t show up to vote,” said Ealom.

Qualified voters can cast their absentee ballots at the Kansas City Election Board on Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon and on Monday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Polls officially open Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 6 a.m.