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Politics, Elections and Government

Voters In Kansas City Area Smash Past Turnout Levels Of 2014 Midterms

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3
The parking lot at this Kansas polling place was full when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Voters in the Kansas City metro did as many experts expected in the midterm elections: They came out in force.

Despite confusion over voter ID requirements and reports of malfunctioning machines across Missouri, unofficial results from Kansas City and surrounding counties indicate almost twice the turnout in some areas as there was in the 2014 midterms.

Corey Dillon, Democratic Director of the Jackson County Election Board, says turnout in Jackson County of 67.3 percent shocked even election officials. It exceeded turnout in 2014 by almost 30 percentage points. 

"We had only minor problems. A ballot counter stopped working but we had that replaced within 20 minutes,” she said. "We knocked on wood all day and it must have worked.”

Contentious debate and heated rhetoric surrounding the president energized the electorate on both sides of the political spectrum. At the same time, there was passion over elections and ballot issues from both Kansas and Missouri.

Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said turnout in that county broke a 22-year record. Nearly half the registered voters cast ballots and he expects that number will rise when absentee ballots are included. 

“Our staff works hard to put these elections on and it’s disappointing when voters don’t show up,” he said. “It does make one wonder when there’s some 49 percent turnout, where are the other 51 percent?”

Here are the unofficial results. (Returns aren't official until certified by the secretary of state.)

Johnson County, Kansas:

  • Turnout: 62.9%
  • Ballots cast: 263,644 
  • Registered voters: 419,403

Wyandotte County, Kansas

  • Turnout: 49.1%
  • Ballots cast: 40,853 
  • Registered voters: 83,154

Kansas City, Missouri:

  • Turnout: 49.5%
  • Ballots cast: 112,253
  • Registered voters: 226,743

Jackson County, Missouri (eastern):

  • Turnout: 67.3%
  • Ballots cast: 151,947
  • Registered voters: 225,775

Clay County, Missouri:

  • Turnout: 61.1%
  • Ballots cast: 97,710
  • Registered voters: 159,902

Platte County, Missouri:

  • Turnout: 69.9% 
  • Ballots cast: 44,709
  • Registered voters: 63,994

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. Reach her via Twitter,@laurazig or email lauraz@kcur.org.

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