US attorney to send monitor to observe Dodge City election

October 30, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal monitor will be sent to observe voting in Dodge City in the November election, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a court filing.

His notification to the court came on the same day that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree scheduled a hearing for Thursday in Topeka to hear arguments on the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas’ request for a temporary restraining order that would force Ford County to open a second polling site in Dodge City.

The southwest Kansas town has only one polling site for 13,000 voters. For nearly two decades, that sole location was at the civic center in the mostly white part of town. The county last month moved it outside the city limits to a facility more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.

The Justice Department’s civil rights division has in past elections had a monitor at the Dodge City polling site, but this year the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas will be observing the election process.

McAllister said in an emailed statement that his office has not intervened in the pending litigation filed by the ACLU, nor is it taking any position regarding it.

“At this time, we are simply taking a basic step to observe the election with the hope that all goes smoothly in Ford County, so each and every voter’s constitutional right to vote is honored and fully protected,” McAllister said.

Dodge City officials said in a letter addressed to citizens that was sent to the media on Tuesday that it is offering free rides door-to-door for voters wanting to vote in person early at the county election office as well as those wishing to go the polling site outside town on election day.

Dodge City Mayor Kent Smoll wrote in his letter that the city had discussed with the county clerk the possibility of adding a second polling location for this election, but that there are several barriers to that such as timing requirements, ballots and the fact voting is already under way.

Smoll said conversations have also begun with the county clerk in regards to establishing at least one more polling location for future elections.