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Kansas City, Missouri, to host listening session on possible changes to election process

Charter Review Commission meets Monday night
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Posted at 6:44 AM, May 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-08 07:46:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A special commission is reviewing possible changes to the way voters in Kansas City, Missouri, elect the mayor and city council members.

Current Mayor Quinton Lucas appointed members to the Charter Review Commission in April. Every 10 years, the city must review its charter or constitution. Lucas asked commission members to focus on reviewing rules about voting.

A commission member confirmed the group is looking at several changes including moving dates of the elections from April and June to August and November. Commissioner Jenny Johnston said the group will even review whether to move elections from odd years to even years; so municipal elections align with presidential and gubernatorial elections. Both changes would give whoever voters elect as mayor and city council members this year extra time in office beyond the typical four-year term.

The commission will also review whether to declare a winner in primary elections should a candidate receive 50% plus one of the vote. If no candidate gets the majority, the top two candidates would advance to the general election a is the case in the current process.

Johnston said another option is ranked choice voting.

She hopes the public attends a listening session Monday, May 8 at 6 p.m. to give feedback on the changes.

“Ultimately this is something voters are either going to have to either approve or oppose,” Johnston said. “It’s good they’re educated on all of the issues and we get the ultimate feedback we want to best govern Kansas City.”

Mayor Lucas would like a recommendation from the commission by next week, so the city council can review it before May 25 in order to decide whether to place any recommended changes on the August 2023 ballot for final approval from the city’s voters.

Some are critical of the timeline, calling it rushed.

“If you’re trying to change this entire thing in a month and cram listening sessions into two or three weeks, it really, really kind of defeats the democratic process of having everyone involved and being able to be a part and have their voice heard,” explained Martin Rucker, a voter in Kansas City.

Monday’s listening session will take place at Southeast Community Center located at 4201 East 63rd Street.