US House report critical of Dodge City election official 

February 26, 2020 - 7:03 pm

Emails released as part of a congressional investigation into voter suppression show a Kansas county clerk being dismissive about the national outcry after Dodge City's lone polling site was moved outside the city limits. Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox called the move “a big mess” in an email to retired county clerk Sharon Seibel just weeks before the November 2018 election. Seibel replied that people “just need to get over themselves...” 

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform examined the decision by Cox to move the site as part of a broader probe of voter suppression allegations that also included looking at irregularities in Georgia and Texas.

The committee noted in a report released before a hearing Wednesday on voter suppression in minority communities that Dodge City has a majority Latino population whose historical support for Democratic candidates was expected to be a factor in that state's tight race for governor. Amid the national spotlight, Ford County saw its highest voter turnout in a midterm election in more than two decades but still lagged behind the state’s voting rate. 

Cox has said she made the move in anticipation of a construction project at the former polling location that she feared could disrupt access on Election Day.  The investigation revealed that the polling site was moved “without conducting appropriate due diligence, without consulting the local community, and without taking simple steps to reduce the impact of the move on thousands of voters until after a public outcry forced them to take action,” the committee said. 

During an interview with congressional investigators, Cox acknowledged she did not consult with community groups or residents about their concerns, even though she was aware that residents likely would be upset with moving to the new location, according to the report. She also acknowledged in the interview that she did not take steps to remedy the impact of the move until after a public outcry and that she did not consider accessibility of the new site by public transportation. The new location used in the 2018 general election was more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.

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