DA takes oath of office

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark A. Dupree Sr. was sworn into office Monday at Memorial Hall, surrounded by his family. (Photo from district attorney’s social media page)
Assistant district attorneys also took the oath of office Monday at Memorial Hall. (Photo from district attorney’s social media page)

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark A. Dupree Sr. took the oath of office for a second term today.

In a ceremony at Memorial Hall that was livestreamed on his Facebook page, Dupree was surrounded by his family, friends and co-workers. There were COVID-19 measures in place.

The oath of office was administered by his brother, Wyandotte County District Court Judge Timothy Dupree.

Dupree is known for some programs he initiated, including the conviction integrity unit and community integrity unit.

The district attorney said his office operates on the philosophy of being smart on crime. He mentioned several programs, such as the drug court, the behavioral health court, the veterans court, expanding the diversion program, and creating community groups such as the interfaith council.

The district attorney’s office partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice to take a deep dive into the office’s practices before he became district attorney, he said.

He also mentioned an expungement fair held in Wyandotte County, allowing citizens to get their records expunged in the hopes of becoming employed.

They have also received grant funding to expand victim impact work in the community, he said. An additional victim’s advocate has been hired so that more victims can be heard, he said. They are forming a victims’ liaison board to discuss what can be done to better support victims, he said.

Dupree’s spouse, Shanelle Dupree, talked about his supportiveness to his family and said he was guided by his relationship with Jesus. Shanelle Dupree was her husband’s campaign director.

Assistant district attorneys also were sworn in on Monday, with Dupree expressing his thanks and appreciation for their work.

Also participating in the program were Pastor Alvin Dupree Jr.; the Rev. Ricky Turner, pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church; and the Rev. Rick Behrens, pastor of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church, as well as vocal music performers.

The swearing-in ceremony is online at https://www.facebook.com/WYCODAOffice/videos/794203427834305.

Official election results show high turnout of Wyandotte County voters

Final official election results are now in, and they show that Wyandotte County voters turned out in force for the general election Nov. 3.

Wyandotte County election results became official on Monday after the Board of Canvassers reviewed provisional ballots here. No election outcomes changed as a result, according to Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.

Turnout was about 62 percent of the total registered voters here and 69.5 percent of the active registered voters, Newby said.

“I think it’s doggone good,” he added.

The turnout this year approached the turnout in 2008, when 65 percent of the voters here cast a ballot when Barack Obama was elected, he said.

Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-37th Dist., ran a write-in campaign in the general election after losing in the primary to Democratic candidate Aaron Coleman. Rep. Frownfelter’s name was not on the general election ballot, and his campaign urged voters to “Write in Stan.”

Newby said since Rep. Frownfelter was the only Stan in the election, the Board of Canvassers decided to count all the votes with just “Stan,” “Frownfelter” or his entire name as a write-in – anything that was obvious it was for Frownfelter.

Rep. Frownfelter got 1,222 write-in votes, and Republican Kristina Smith, also a write-in candidate, received 620 write-in votes, he said.

It was not enough, though, as Coleman received 3,649 votes in the general election.

“I could not count ‘Anyone Else,’ ‘Snow White’ or ‘Snoop Dogg’” – all other names that had been written in, he said.

There were 186 miscellaneous, fictitious names, and even a profanity written in on the 37th District contest that did not count.

There were no requests for recounts on this election by 4 p.m. Tuesday, which was not surprising, as there were no close races, he said.

1,621 provisional votes counted

The total of registered voters includes some inactive voters, Newby said. The total number of registered voters here is 91,358, and 67,276 ballots were cast, for a 62.7 percent turnout, he said. There are 82,745 active registered voters, he said.

This election, there were 2,367 provisional votes total, and 1,621 were approved to count, he said. Those which were not counted totaled 746.

“Seventy percent of all provisional ballots did count,” he said. “The rumor that says provisional ballots do not count is a bald-faced lie.”

More than 500 people had to vote a provisional ballot because they went to the wrong polling place, he said.

They also had 967 ballots that were cast by voters who had received advanced ballots by mail and did not vote an advance ballot. Instead, they showed up for early voting and voted a ballot there, he said.

“Those were provisional, but they all counted,” he said. There is no penalty for deciding to go to the polling place and not sending in the advance mail ballot, he added.

There were 27 people, however, who did vote an advance mail ballot and also voted a provisional ballot in person, he said. Those provisional ballots were not counted.

While he did not look into the reasons why they might have tried to vote twice, he said he knew from past experience that the voter is often an elderly person who has forgotten that he voted earlier.

Voting twice is an election crime, and in the past they have referred cases to the district attorney’s office. When a provisional ballot is not counted, then the opinion of the district attorney is that the election office kept a person from committing a crime by having a provisional ballot that did not count, he said. Because of the provisional ballot, the individual did not vote twice.

Different kind of election year

It was a different kind of election this year, as the risk of COVID-19 resulted in many people voting by mail or in advance polling sites.

While some other areas have reported election workers who got COVID-19, there were no election workers in Wyandotte County who reported any illnesses to them, Newby said.

One election office employee thought she had been exposed to COVID-19, he added, but it was her spouse who was exposed at work, and her three tests all came back negative.

All the election workers had to wear masks, he said.

“One of the things I was real strict about was everybody wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer,” Newby said.

He let the election workers know that under the law, no one could be prevented from voting because they weren’t wearing a mask.

“I told them wearing or not wearing a mask was not an obstacle to voting, it is a constitutional right to vote, and that rules the day,” Newby said.

Voters were good about wearing masks, he said. He didn’t see any voters without a mask, and while there may have been an occasional voter without a mask, he didn’t hear about it.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each in-person voter who voted a paper ballot received a free pen with a rubber-tipped stylus and a tip that could be used to sign the poll book, he said. Voters got to keep that pen. The voters who voted on a touch screen received a long disposable Q-Tip so no further contact was being made with the instrument used to vote.

They had cleaning supplies available at each polling place to immediately clean screens, so nothing was passed on to other voters, he said.

Newby said when they counted mail ballots, he required workers to wear masks and sit at least 6 feet away from others. At the vote canvassing, workers also distanced and wore masks all the time, he added.

“We did everything we could do to prevent somebody from catching COVID, working this election,” he said.

The final official Wyandotte County vote totals are online at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56606b47e4b0b9403ad6ff96/t/5fb302ed4b72177acb15dc92/1605567213873/Official+Website.pdf.

Some area officials offer congratulations to Biden

Area officials offered their congratulations to Joe Biden being declared the winner of the presidency by major news organizations on Saturday, while other officials seem to be waiting.

One local official, Unified Government Commissioner Christian Ramirez, wrote on social media: “A weight has been lifted off of our shoulders and we can finally breathe!!”

Major news organizations declared Joe Biden the winner of the presidency on Saturday, calculating that he had surpassed the number of electoral votes needed to win. His win will be official after the Electoral College meets and votes.

However, President Donald Trump did not concede, but planned lawsuits challenging the election results, with the help of the Missouri attorney general. (See https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/20/20-542/160113/20201109134744257_2020-11-09%20-%20Republican%20Party%20of%20Pa.%20v.%20Boockvar%20-%20Amicus%20Brief%20of%20Missouri%20et%20al.%20-%20Final%20With%20Tables.pdf)

Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democrats put together a strategy during the campaign that won back much of the labor vote, turned out African-American and Hispanic voters, and garnered the support of college-age and suburban women.

Joe Biden visited Wyandotte County on Sept. 19, 2019, to support striking autoworkers. (File photo)

Visits to Wyandotte County by presidential candidates have been somewhat rare in recent years, but Biden made an appearance in Wyandotte County on Sept. 22, 2019, to support striking autoworkers. (See http://www.wyandottedaily.com/biden-visits-uaw-strikers-in-kck/)

Wyandotte County voted almost 2-to-1 for Biden and Harris. The vote here was 35,623 for Biden and Harris to 18,530 for Trump and Pence, according to unofficial results.

Biden gave a victory speech on Saturday evening, saying there was a need to heal the divisions in the nation.

With the projection of Biden as winner, also comes “firsts” for America’s vice president-elect – the first woman, and the first black woman, as well as the first woman with ancestors from India, as Kamala Harris was declared the winner of the vice presidency by several news organizations.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., who won re-election last Tuesday, sent out a message on social media about the election: “I know a lot of folks are exhausted by the heated rhetoric in our national conversation right now. We all have our principles. It’s fine if we have honest disagreements sometimes. But we should always remember that we are not Democrats or Republicans first. We’re all Americans first. This has to be a time to heal, find common ground whenever we can, and make government work for the people. Every person and every corner of our community deserves a government that works for them. Not special interests.”

State Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist., offered a simple “Congratulations” to Biden and Harris on her social media site. The Wyandotte County Democrats social media site posted a congratulatory photo.

Unified Government Commissioner Christian Ramirez posted on social media: “Congratulations Mr. President-elect!!!! Joe Biden will turn this country around and bring back decency and honor back to the Office of the Presidency! Let’s get to work and bring our country back together!!
“Out of all the elections I’ve watched I’ve never cried before! I didn’t even cry with my election. A weight has been lifted off of our shoulders and we can finally breathe!!”

Former Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland pointed out in a social media analysis post, “Whites oust Trump, Trump attacks blacks,” that probably more people voted against Trump than for Biden. (See https://www.facebook.com/mark.holland.9237)