New voters in majority-Latino Kansas town — where poll site was already moved — get wrong info

More bad mojo in Dodge City: After the polling place was moved out of town, new voters were mailed incorrect info

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published October 30, 2018 3:00PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Joe Raedle)
(Getty/Joe Raedle)

New voters in Dodge City, Kansas, the majority-Latino Kansas town whose lone polling site was moved outside of city limits with no access to public transportation, are now receiving registration certificates that direct them to the wrong polling location, the Associated Press reports.

Dodge City, a town of 27,000 located 160 miles west of Wichita, has had just one polling site for more than 13,000 voters since 2012, even though the average polling location nationwide services about 1,200 voters. This year, the community's only polling place -- at the civic center in a largely white area -- was closed because of “road construction” and moved to the Expo Center outside of town, more than a mile from the nearest public bus stop.

Newly registered voters, however, are reportedly receiving official certificates sending them to the old location at the civic center.

“I didn’t know this could get worse, and it did: ‘Hey, let’s move the site and not tell new registrants where they are supposed to go,’” Ford County Democratic Party Chairman Johnny Dunlap told AP.

Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey admitted the certificates were “confusing” and said he directed the county to “inform the voters” and send out another notice.

After the ACLU objected to the polling place's move out of town, according to the Wichita Eagle, Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox forwarded their letter asking her to publicize a voter help line to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “LOL,” she wrote in the email.

Kobach, who has a long history of attempting to restrict voters, is the Republican nominee to be the state's next governor. That race is dead even in virtually every poll released since the summer.

Voters in many parts of the country have received incorrect voting information in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, particularly in states or districts with close races.

In Montana, the Republican National Committee sent out a mailer telling voters that absentee ballots could be submitted up to 10 days after the election, even though the state requires absentee ballots to be submitted by 8 p.m. on Election Day, the Washington Post reported. The RNC called the mailer an “unintentional error,” but with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester leading Republican challenger Matt Rosendale by just 3 percent in recent polls, it could make a significant difference.

In Wisconsin, a mailer for the Center for Voter Information, an organization that works with the Washington nonprofit Voter Participation Center, sent absentee ballot applications listing the wrong addresses for clerks to whom they must be submitted, along with incorrect and confusing instructions. Republican Gov. Scott Walker narrowly trails Democratic challenger Tony Evers in recent polls.

In Missouri, the state Republican Party sent mailers to 10,000 people listing the wrong deadline to submit absentee ballots, which the party blamed on a miscommunication with the printer. The Missouri Senate race is one of the closest in the county, with polls narrowly split between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The Ohio Republican Party similarly sent a mailer urging voters to bring their absentee ballots to the polls. But absentee voters cannot be submitted at polling locations in that state, and must be returned to the board of elections headquarters. Ohio has one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country, with Democrat Richard Cordray narrowly leading Republican Mike DeWine for the seat being vacated by Republican Gov. John Kasich.


By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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