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Want To Vote In Kansas City's April Election? Here's What You Need To Know

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So you voted in the presidential election last year and felt all warm and fuzzy because you did your civic duty. Yay! Or maybe you didn't (or couldn't) but now you want to make a change.

The race for the highest executive office in the United States may be settled, but KCUR is here to break down Kansas City, Missouri's special April 4 election for you. 

First, make sure you can vote (if you're registered already, click here to skip down to the issues)

The registration deadline with the Kansas City Election Board is March 8. According to the Election Board's website, you can register if:

  • You will be 18 years old on or before the date of the election. 
  • You are a resident of Kansas City, within Jackson County, and are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are not judicially declared incompetent.
  • You have been pardoned, discharged or released from a felony conviction.
  • And have never been convicted of a crime related to voting.

If you're eligible, then you need to fill out the paperwork to get your name on the voting rolls. You can go register in-person at the Kansas City Election Board Office at Union Station, at most libraries in KCMO or send in a registration form by mail.

A small note here: If you send in registration by mail, it must be received by the Board Office by the 4th Wednesday preceding the election date. So don't dawdle! 

A bigger note here: If you're in Platte or Claycounties, but still within Kansas City, Missouri, you'll probably want to register with your respective election board there. The Kansas City Election Board can take your info and pass it along to those other counties to get you registered, but it's easier if you start in those counties to begin with.

Brush up on the issues at stake

Now this part is crucial, because, well, informed voters are the best voters. Check out this sample ballot to get a good idea of what you'll be looking at.

$800 million infrastructure bonds

The biggest issue on the ballot is undoubtedly whether or not to approve a package of general obligation bonds totaling $800 million to fund infrastructure needs in Kansas City. The bonds are broken up into three questions, each allocating a chunk of the pot to different project types. 

Marijuana decriminalization

Another big ticket item is an initiative petition that would reduce the punishment for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana. If the measure is passed, getting caught with the devil's lettuce would net you a municipal infraction and a $25 fine.

St. Louis and Columbia have both passed similar ordinances already. One thing to keep in mind is that the infraction would still show up on your record as a drug-related offense. So while you'll stay out of the pokey, the violation could still negatively impact your ability to get a job.

Economic development sales tax

This question would raise a 1/8 percent sales tax to be used for funding development projects between 9th Street on the north and Gregory Boulevard on the south; The Paseo on the west and Indiana Avenue on the east. 

Various school district measures and positions

Three-year term director positions for the Raytown and Lee's Summit school districts are up for grabs, as well as bond issues for the Grandview and Independence school districts. Grandview is asking for $9 million to complete district facility upgrades like window and roof replacement, parking lot improvements and classroom renovations.

Independence is asking for $38 million to construct a new elementary school and complete facility maintenance projects at Truman, Van Horn and William Chrisman high schools.

Last but not least, get out and vote!

All of this is for naught if you don't actually show up to the polls. And, let's be honest here, you have absolutely no excuse not to go vote. Missouri law gives you the right to take three hours off work to go vote (unless you have three consecutive non-work hours when the polls are open).

So do it and make your country proud! It's the American way.

Cody Newill is the digital editor for KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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