What are election officials doing to prevent long voter lines Tuesday?

OLATHE, Kan. - Tuesday will undoubtedly be an historic Election Day in our nation’s history. It’s also expected to be record-breaking for voter turnout, at least in Kansas City area.

Early voting numbers in Johnson County have already been called “prolific” by election officials.

"It takes about 10 minutes to get into the parking lot at this location. It's a zoo out there,” said Ronnie Metsker, Johnson County Election Commissioner.

The Johnson County Election Board office location on Kansas City Road in Olathe had traffic backed up for several blocks Friday afternoon.

The county has had early voting for 10 days already, already taking in more than 106,000 voters as of Friday morning.

"We expect 80 percent of Johnson County to vote in the election,” said Metsker.

Come Tuesday, Johnson County officials expect another 160,000 voters, almost double the record-setting numbers they saw in 2008.

So how are they ensuring Johnson County voters don’t have incredibly long lines on Election Day? They say they’re already confident the day will go smoothly because of their successful push for early voting.

"It's been a long term strategy. to have plenty of voting locations and advanced voting marketed heavily. Get the voters to come out and vote early, leaving a smaller residual to vote on the final Election Day,” said Metsker.

Johnson County will have 209 voting locations this year. They’ve also made the process quicker by implementing electronic poll books, also known as poll pads.

“Traditionally you had to wait for the paper poll book to find your name on the line and sign it. It's taking less than sixty seconds for the entire check in process,” said Metsker.

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But even while Missouri has the same technology, they don’t allow early voting. Therefore, Tuesday may be more of a challenge for those in Missouri.

"This is the longest ballot in recent history. I've been here roughly 29 years. I've never seen anything this long,” said Shawn Kieffer with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners.

Ballots in Kansas City will be 18 inches long, and according to officials, can take up to 31 minutes to complete.

Kieffer says voter preparation will be monumental Tuesday.

"When somebody comes in ice cold, they don't have any idea who they're gonna vote for, either on the candidates or on the issues, were timing them at about 31 minutes,” he said. "On the other hand when people have a sample ballot and they've read through the issues and know how to come vote, generally they're gonna be out in ten minutes or less."

Kieffer said they will be handing out sample ballots to voters waiting in line Tuesday to help save time once they get in the booth. The election official also said they’ve added 70 people as temporary help and have added more privacy booths. Kansas City will have roughly 2,500 booths on Tuesday for the estimated 140,000 voters.

According to Kieffer, they’re expecting about a 62 percent voter turnout, similar to 2012.

"This election were actually doubling the number of privacy booths,” he said.

Election Day hours are from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Early voting hours in Johnson County are as follows:

Friday: 10-7

Saturday: 9-3

Monday: 8-noon

 

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Josh Helmuth can be reached at josh.helmuth@kshb.com

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