Significant voter turnout seen in Jackson County, Kansas City for stadium tax election

The resounding defeat of the stadium sales tax question on Tuesday came at the hands of thousands of Jackson County voters, both within and outside Kansas City.

In total, 24.3% of registered voters cast ballots with the Kansas City Election Board, which covers only the portion of Kansas City that falls within Jackson County. A whopping 34.3% of registered voters cast ballots with the Jackson County Election Board, which covers the rest of Jackson County.

Overall, just under 135,000 voters cast their ballots on an initiative that asked voters to approve a ⅜-cent sales tax for the next 40 years to fund improvements to the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium and construction of a new Royals stadium complex in the Crossroads arts district of downtown Kansas City.

Voters rejected the measure by a margin of roughly 58% against to 42% in favor.

“We were excited to see the 34% turnout,” Jackson County election commissioner Sara Zorich told The Star Wednesday morning. “I think that the question really brought people out.”

How does Tuesday’s turnout compare to previous years?

Missouri holds general municipal elections every April, but last night’s turnout was the highest seen in years. The graph below shows the turnout in both of Jackson County’s election jurisdictions.

Each jurisdiction saw higher turnout Tuesday than it has during any general municipal election in the last 10 years. The spike is especially pronounced in the JCEB’s jurisdiction, where turnout was more than double its highest previous level during that time period.

What does this high turnout mean for future elections?

Zorich told The Star that many voters took advantage of the county’s no-excuse absentee voting — also called early voting — in the two weeks leading up to the election. She speculated that high participation may predict greater turnout in the upcoming primary election on Aug. 6 and the Nov. 5 general election.

“Now that people know about that two weeks ahead of time with no excuse in-person voting, I think that’s going to help a lot to bring people out,” she said.

She had a few tips for voters planning to come out to the polls for the upcoming elections:

  • Make sure your voter registration information is up to date. Zorich said her poll workers saw many voters with outdated addresses or names that didn’t match their photo ID. You can update your registration information by printing the form at home or visiting a registration site.

  • Know where your polling place is. Kansas City voters showed up at Jackson County polling places Tuesday hoping to vote, and had to be redirected to their correct polling locations, Zorich said.

  • Be informed about the issues on your ballot. Zorich added that election judges are not allowed to interpret or explain ballot questions. She advised voters to do some research before going to vote about what exactly will be on your ballot, and what it means.

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