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Old 10-20-2004, 12:20 PM  
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Voter Registrations In Kansas City Exceed Voting Age Adults By 10% (More Dem Fraud)

KANSAS CITY - An Election Day plagued with problems. Jammed telephone lines cutting off access to election headquarters. Frustrated registered voters turned away at the polls and later marching to court.

The scene sounds familiar. But it wasn't supposed to happen in Kansas City.

On Aug. 3, Kansas City got a taste of the polling-place chaos that so embarrassed the city of St. Louis almost four years ago.

But Kansas City election officials proclaim there will be no replay on Nov. 2, thanks to a new state-of-the-art call center and a still-being-assembled army of 170 "locators" charged with quickly resolving questions about a voter's eligibility or proper polling place.

Still, Kansas City elections director Sharon Turner Buie acknowledges that her revamped operation will face a daunting test if the predicted record-setting number of voters flood the polls.

More than Kansas City's reputation is on the line. So are the Democratic dreams of statewide victory, especially for presidential nominee John Kerry and for the hometowner running for governor, state Auditor Claire McCaskill.

With rural Missouri increasingly tracking Republican, any Democratic candidate needs to amass a huge edge coming out of the Kansas City area to have any hope of carrying the state.

Traditionally a Democratic stronghold, Kansas City lately has been the target of party derision for lower-than-expected turnouts that some Democrats blame for a string of narrow statewide losses.

Democratic success this fall hinges on breaking that cycle. In the case of McCaskill, for example, consultant Steve Glorioso said that she needed to outpoll her Republican rival, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, by at least 80,000 votes in the four-county Kansas City area, which includes several large Republican pockets.

State leaders of Kerry's campaign say they're hoping for a similar regional edge.

That's significantly more than the 69,000-vote margin that the region awarded in 2000 to that year's most popular state Democrat, the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, in his successful posthumous bid to oust then-Sen. John Ashcroft. The Democratic presidential nominee, Al Gore, only amassed a 50,000-vote margin on the same turf in his unsuccessful 2000 contest with Republican George W. Bush.

This year's Democratic hopes in the Kansas City region ride largely on two factors:

A dramatic increase in the number of registered voters in Kansas City and surrounding Jackson County. At last count, election officials reported their active-voter rolls were up at least 71,000, compared to 2000.

The vote-drawing power of former Mayor Emanuel Cleaver, the region's most prominent African-American and a Democrat. He's involved in an expensive and nasty contest for the open 5th District congressional seat against Republican Jeanne Patterson, a political newcomer who already has put more than $1 million of her own money into her bid.

"Having Emanuel Cleaver as the nominee is a blessing for the entire ticket," Glorioso said.

The Republican regional aim, for Bush and Blunt, is to counter with large vote totals from the region's GOP territories, generally in the so-called "collar counties" of Platte, Cass and Clay, and parts of eastern Jackson County.

Kansas City Republican activist Warren Erdman, a national co-chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, agrees that Cleaver could help spike Democratic turnout. But Erdman and Jackson County vice chairwoman Shirley Simmons, among others, also point to their own organized efforts.

Last week, the presidents' daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, stopped by the county GOP headquarters to cheer on about 100 volunteers.

"Sen. Kerry is not going to do as well in this part of the state as a Democratic presidential candidate needs to do to carry this state," said former state GOP Chairman Woody Cozad, a lobbyist and lawyer in Platte County.

Democratic activists, from state Kerry campaign director Tony Wilson on down, generally don't buy that - even as Kerry and the Democratic National Committee have moved staff and campaign dollars to states deemed more promising.

Bev Elving, an accountant in Kansas City, is among the region's Democrats who continue to staff the party's campaign offices, operate the phone banks and distribute literature door-to-door. Most are oozing confidence that their statewide ticket - especially McCaskill - will rake up larger Kansas City vote totals in a couple weeks.

That confidence stems from the heady projected vote totals. If Kansas City has a 70 percent turnout, as Turner Buie predicts, that would amount to 175,000 total votes cast - more than 50,000 above the vote tally in 2000.

If the Democratic edge is maintained, Kerry and McCaskill should get at least two-thirds of those votes.

Not everyone is impressed. Cozad is among several top Republicans from the western side of the state who say they're suspicious. "The number of people registered to vote in Kansas City, south of the Missouri River, exceeds the number of people age 18 and over by at least 10 percent," he said.

Turner Buie says the city's official tally of registered voters - 253,000 - includes thousands of "inactive voters" who likely reside elsewhere. By federal law, many of those voters can't be removed from the rolls until after Nov. 2, state election officials say.

Cozad added that he wasn't accusing anyone of voter fraud, but that he was pessimistic that the final vote tallies would come close to reflecting the Democratic projections.

The bulk of those new voter registrations were collected by Democrat-leaning independent groups like America Coming Together, which has been conducting door-to-door voter registration drives in Kansas City and St. Louis for more than a year.

Ebs Burnough, ACT's western Missouri communications director, insists that most of those new registrations are real - and that the Election Day crowds at the polls will prove it.

The group's dozens of volunteers and paid workers are keeping track of those newly registered voters to make sure that they cast ballots, he said.

Aiding in that effort is another independent group, MoveOnPAC.org, an arm of the anti-Bush national group known as MoveOn.org. MoveOnPAC has used the Internet to sign up 10,000 people in the Kansas City area who will, in turn, help contact registered voters with spotty voting records.

"Our focus is making sure that infrequently voting Democrats get to the polls," said Kansas City field organizer Emmet O'Hanlon. "Our goal is thousands of extra votes from the Kansas City area for John Kerry."
Provisional ballots

The local Kerry and Bush camps already are preparing for possible legal fights on Election Day over some of those new voters - especially if they show up at the wrong precinct and cast a provisional ballot.

The Aug. 3 problems in Kansas City prompted hundreds of local voters to cast such ballots, made available when a would-be voter's qualifications can't be immediately verified. The state Democratic Party and Blunt's office tangled in court over the state law's provision that such ballots be thrown out if it turned out the provisional ballot was cast in the wrong polling place.

Last week, a federal judge ruled in favor of that requirement - provided that the voter first had been informed of the proper polling place. At the Kansas City Election Board, Turner Buie says the communications improvements should allow poll workers to comply with the judge's order. Either way, Kerry state chairman Wilson says he expects that all provisional ballots cast in Kansas City on Nov. 2 to be counted.

Just to be on the safe side, Wilson has lined up 140 lawyers to be stationed at Kansas City polling places. The state GOP says it has its own legal team ready, as well.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...+for+Democrats
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Old 10-20-2004, 02:02 PM   #2
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Old 10-20-2004, 04:35 PM   #3
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Old 10-20-2004, 04:41 PM   #4
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Turner Buie says the city's official tally of registered voters - 253,000 - includes thousands of "inactive voters" who likely reside elsewhere. By federal law, many of those voters can't be removed from the rolls until after Nov. 2, state election officials say.
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