Special election on street funding detours some Atchison voters from weighing in on abortion amendment

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 3:13 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Cruise around Atchison and the streets are less than perfect. The town of 10,000 people will soon vote on an extra tax to help with the roadways.

That special election is taking some by surprise with a consequence they never saw coming. They can’t register in the August primary election, meaning they can’t weigh in on the abortion amendment.

“Would I like the roads to be nicer? Sure. Do I think that our rights are a little bit more important than that? I do,” said Josie McCullough.

McCullough is just one voter who is surprised by the registration glitch.

The election on roads is July 14. Registration closed three weeks ago on June 23. Most communities in Kansas have until July 12 to register to vote in the August primary, but the special election changed the rules for Atchison residents.

People who register now can vote in the November election but they have now missed the deadline for the August primary, something that is spelled out in a state statute.

This affects young voters who are registering for the first time, people who have moved to Kansas, and people who don’t normally vote but now want to participate because abortion is on the ballot.

Misty Jones is furious on behalf of her daughter Samantha.

“She’s not going to be allowed to vote. I mean, her vote isn’t going to count. I think it’s wrong. I feel like maybe the city has an agenda,” said Jones.

Jones suggested the city move the election on roads, considering the uniqueness of the situation and importance of the August primary. Others echoed similar suggestions.

“It’s is going to affect them for the rest of their lives, most likely, and I believe they should have a voice,” said Sidwell Jones.

It doesn’t appear the city will budge. The mayor and commissioners declined to speak with KCTV5 in person and sent this statement:

The city’s position has frustrated voters, who declined to weigh in on how they would vote on the upcoming abortion ballot question. They expressed that, due to the importance, they would like to have a voice.

“They have the power to change their election date. It is not certain that the sales tax initiative will even pass, but their actions disenfranchise many voters, including young, first-time voters in a historic statewide election. It is an egregious failure of leadership on the part of the city commission,” said Daphne McConnell.

McConnell’s daughter recently turned 18 and will not be able to vote in August.

Meredith Doyle recently moved from Missouri to Kansas and was stunned Atchison had a different registration deadline than the rest of the state.

“I find it distressing. I find it distressing,” said Doyle.

Mackenzie Haddix, Deputy Communications Director for the Value Them Both Coalition, sent KCTV5 the following statement: