Kansas City Mayor Turned Away After Daylight Voting Heist
Quinton Lucas is the dashing, young black mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. Lucas was set to vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary, but he hit a snag. His name wasn't in the system at a polling place he's used multiple times over the past 11 years. He's even voted for himself there.
We've seen how lines to vote in minority districts are often so long, people have visibly aged by the time they reach the ballot and might no longer resemble their photo ID, but that wasn't Lucas's problem. He reportedly used a utility bill to prove his identity but the poll worker insisted he wasn't in the voter rolls. That 10-minute exchange ended with his being turned away.
From the New York Times:
"I was probably a bit frustrated," [Lucas] said. "The other thing that got in my head was it's a little embarrassing being turned away at the polls."
An election official later contacted Lucas and informed him that the poll worker “simply" entered his name incorrectly. They tried to look up “Lucas Quinton" instead of “Quinton Lucas," which is — how do I put this nicely? — fucking stupid. The mayor gave his correct name and provided official mail addressed to that name. How do you make that boneheaded a mistake, especially when Lucas keeps saying that he knows he's in the system? Aside from being ... the mayor?
Lucas's polling place is at a Baptist church where the electorate is an estimated 80 percent black. Unfortunately, a very small percentage of that electorate is mayor of Kansas City, so if a poll worker couldn't “find" them in the database, it's less likely that someone higher up would bother confirming his identity in time for him to actually vote. More concerning is how often the poll worker might've made this error. Few voters are named Humbert Humbert, so a lot of other potential voters might've been turned away.
LUCAS: It's clear to me that there is a problem. At a time when we're trying to get people to have faith in voting, making sure every voter feels valued is vital for us. My experience today made me feel a little less important.
Lauri Ealom, the director of the Kansas City election board who followed up with Lucas, is a little annoyed that the mayor didn't keep this embarrassing incident on the QT. She sneered at the notion that this was voter suppression rather than just plain, old-fashioned incompetence. She thinks all this fuss “amplified" a simple user error made by an “elder poll worker." Lucas is effectively cyber bullying old people now. For shame!
EALOM: The situation could have been rectified.
Yes, the poll worker could have escalated Lucas's concern and helped resolve it. Ealom, however, thinks that's somehow the individual voter's job. But most of the black people who use that polling place probably don't have much experience “calling the manager." That's just a different set of skills, like appreciating pumpkin spice lattes. I was impressed that Lucas used the advanced tactic of “angry Yelp review on social media."
Maybe all this unwanted publicity will lead to improved training procedures. Maybe someone will even listen to the black guy next time. He might not be a mayor but his vote should still count.
Make your voice heard, it's your OPEN THREAD.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).