Check-in system to blame for long lines at polls

Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 18:51:43-04

Missouri’s primary set a new record for voter turnout. Nearly 1.6 million Missourians cast a ballot in the presidential primary. And both the Democratic and Republican races were close.

The final count:


  • Hillary Clinton: 310,602 votes
  • Bernie Sanders: 309,071 votes


  • Donald Trump: 382,093 votes
  • Ted Cruz: 380,367 votes

With a record turnout, the Kansas City Election Board ran into problems, including long lines at the polling locations. Voters at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westport and Second Presbyterian Church in Brookside waited in line to vote for more than an hour, while voters at the Waldo Branch Library waited for two hours.

“We started out pretty well. People got in, they got out very quick. Voting was really good in the mornings,” said Shawn Kieffer, director of the Kansas City Election Board. 

Yet, toward the end of the day, lines began to snake around buildings, leading to backups.

“I’ve lived in Waldo for 14 years, I’ve never seen anything like this where it’s wrapped around the whole building,” said Susanna Reith, who voted at the Waldo Branch Library.

The Kansas City Election Board first started using e-books to check in voters in 2013. The e-books replaced the binders the poll workers would comb through. Tuesday’s election, according to Kieffer, was the first time the board used the e-books with a new upgrade.

“We are adding different modules to the server. We are thinking maybe we overloaded it, maybe we need to step back a little bit and see what caused the bog-down on Election Day,” he said.

The upgrade connected all of the tablets at the polling locations to the election board office so officials could monitor how many voters were showing up and where more ballots were needed.

Instead of taking 10 to 15 seconds to register a voter, toward the end of the day the machines were taking several minutes.

“We don't know if it was e-poll books, we don't know if it was our Internet connection, we don't know if it was our vendor server,” said Kieffer. “We are investigating all avenues to see what happened.”

Kansas City is working on preparing for an election in April and the general election in November. Election officials hope to identify and have the problem resolved by then.