Blind voter felt violated at local poll & other Election Day problems in Kansas & Missouri

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - When the polls opened Tuesday morning, the long lines were already forming, and it didn't take long for voters to run into problems.

There are reports of a vision-impaired woman not having the special voting terminal at her precinct. Another voter complained there were candidate posters in the yard next to the polling place. Some precinct workers said their laptops and some voting equipment weren't working, either.  

Shelly McThomas of the Kansas City Board of Elections said there have been minor issues at several polling place across the metro.

Kelly Heiffus voted at Broadway Church in Kansas City. She said she encountered several problems voting Tuesday.

"The paper ballot wouldn't go into the machines," she said. "It kept rejecting it. It wasn't just for me it was probably two or three dozen people after me and they couldn't make it work. And then it would take ballot and then hold it for a minute and then take it back. I have a lot of faith in the system, but I think we're just seeing all of these questions surrounding voting and as Americans we have to know that our vote gets counted."

Another voter, Hazeline Clay, from Kansas City, Mo., is legally blind. She can only see shadows and shapes.  Her precinct officials told her that they didn't have the special voting machine for legally blind voters.

"I had to wait for someone who came and read me the ballot options and marked the ballot for me," Clay explained. "I felt like it was a complete invasion of my privacy."

It turns out that the special headphones and keypad were set-up at Clay's precinct; but she didn't know and can't see. 

Shawn Kieffer, Republican Director of the Kansas City Election Board, said all precinct judges are trained on how to modify the electronic voting machine to accommodate blind voters.

"Unfortunately someone probably didn't know how to use the equipment, and we are sorry," Kieffer said.

He explained that precinct workers and judges will be trained again in the future so legally blind voters like Hazeline Clay will be able to exercise their right to vote independently and in the privacy every voter deserves.

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