27,000 people, one remote polling place

Back to Kansas:

After moving Dodge City’s sole polling site outside city limits, county election officials sent newly registered voters an official certificate of registration that listed the wrong place to cast a ballot in the midterm election — the latest election snafu to surface in the iconic Wild West town where Hispanics now make up the majority of the population.

The southwest Kansas city, located 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of Wichita, has only one polling site for its 27,000 residents. For nearly two decades, that site was at the civic center in the mostly white part of town.

So, finding that too easy, officials moved it outside of town a mile from any bus stop…and then they sent out the wrong location to voters.

“I didn’t know this could get worse, and it did: ‘Hey, let’s move the site and not tell new registrants where they are supposed to go,’” said Johnny Dunlap, chairman of the Ford County Democratic Party.

Local election officials are now scrambling to notify newly registered voters who might be confused by its official registration notice that listed only their regular polling site — not the temporary site for the November election. At the same time, voting rights activists are marshalling their resources to get Dodge City voters to the new polling place — an effort boosted by an outpouring of money and volunteers after widespread national coverage.

Nearly 600 people have volunteered to come to Dodge City to give people rides to their polling place on election day, Dunlap said. The advocacy group Voto Latino is trying to provide Lyft rides to voters who need transportation. The party is also leasing vans for election day voting, canvassing in neighborhoods and advertising to inform voters of available rides.

Stealing elections right out in plain sight.

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