Kansas City streetcar looks to expand south; voter ballot has kinks

Posted at 9:35 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 07:50:46-04

When downtown residents approved a special tax in 2012 to fund the current KC Streetcar, fewer than 500 people voted.

Now, as the streetcar looks to expand south to UMKC, there's another vote -- and this one has its kinks.

John Toms, a West Plaza resident who's been in the area five decades, first learned about the streetcar expansion vote at a neighborhood meeting. He's one of the more than 6,100 people who filled out this application for a ballot

"I've never voted one quite like this before, having to jump through so many hoops just to get a ballot," Toms told 41 Action News.

Toms mailed his application the Thursday before the May 23 deadline.

He even tacked on an extra stamp to make sure it would arrive on time.

When Toms didn't receive a ballot, he went to the Jackson County Courthouse downtown.

"The lady told me we didn't get yours until the 25th and I said, 'Well, show me the envelope,' and she showed me the part of the envelope, and instead of the postmark, it had felt marking pen through the three stamps that we had sent on the envelope," Toms said.

Toms called the situation disheartening.

"There's definitely a tinge of anger," said Sherry DeJanes, treasurer for the anti-streecar expansion group SMART KC.

SMART KC opposes the proposed streetcar expansion, calling the tax impact unfair

"Number one, the process has been so onerous. Number two, they've gotten over all of the hurdles. And number three, for what? They're not getting their ballots," said DeJanes.

The circuit court gave 41 Action News a breakdown of the numbers:

"Of those 6,161 who applied, there were 376 who applied on a timely basis but they did not qualify to receive a ballot as they did not live in the TDD or they were not a registered voter. In addition, there were 33 people who did not get their application in on a timely basis."

- Valerie Hartman, Public Information Officer, 16th Judicial Circuit, Jackson County, Mo.

For those 33 folks, this is only the first phase.

"If the 'Yes' wins, it doesn't stop the process," said DeJanes. "If you didn't apply for a ballot during this first segment, the formation segment, you can go to the polls and vote for the directors. You can go also vote when it comes to the financing."

For residents who do have a ballot, it has to be notarized and turned into the Jackson County Courthouse by August 1.