The first election concerning whether to expand the Kansas City streetcar from downtown to the University of Missouri-Kansas City will have 5,752 potential voters, the court said Monday.
People living in the proposed streetcar district had previously submitted applications for the mail-in ballots, and the court has spent days verifying those applications.
It finished its work on Monday and said 5,752 people properly submitted ballot applications and were eligible registered voters. Ballots will be mailed to those voters beginning June 20 and are due back to the court Aug. 1.
The streetcar expansion proposal, to extend the downtown streetcar route from Union Station to UMKC, involves an unusual mail-in election that is approved and overseen by the Jackson County Circuit Court.
Eligible voters must live within the proposed streetcar district boundaries, generally between the Missouri River and 53rd Street and between State Line Road and Campbell Street.
Election authorities estimate that 30,000 registered voters live within those boundaries. So if everyone who qualified for a ballot actually votes, the turnout would be about 19 percent, which is pretty typical for a special election.
But there is no doubt that this election process is cumbersome. To seek a ballot, people had to fill out an application to the court and provide proof of voter registration.
Both supporters and opponents of the streetcar expansion did quite a bit of grassroots outreach before the applications were due May 23.
If voters approve the creation of the streetcar district in this summer’s mail-in election, there are additional steps. An election this fall would select the district’s directors. That election would occur at various polling places in the district and would be open to all registered voters within the boundaries.
Then there would be a third election, this one again by mail with new ballot applications, in early 2018 to approve the actual property and sales taxes required to help pay for the $227 million streetcar expansion.
From 1870 to 1957 streetcars roamed Kansas City's streets. Now, there are only four KC streetcars but they're picking up where the old series left off.Lynn Horsley The Kansas City Star