Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 1990

CLERK PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY RECORD PRIMARY TURNOUT

August 8, 1990

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Patty Jaimes came up a little short Tuesday night, but was happy nonetheless.

Mrs. Jaimes, the Douglas County clerk, had predicted that about 12,000 county voters, 30 percent to 35 percent of those registered, would cast ballots in Tuesday's primary election. The county's voters surprised her, though, with more than 14,000 nearly 38 percent turning out at the polls Tuesday.

"I guess I was a little low on my voter turnout," she said. "But, you know, if I'm going to be wrong, that's the way I want to be wrong."

Mrs. Jaimes said a combination of factors resulted in the record local turnout for an August primary election.

"Not only the governor's races and the (Lawrence) sales tax, but we had a lot of interest in the representatives races the ones that had races," she said.

DESPITE THE high primary turnout, Mrs. Jaimes said the day went relatively smoothly for poll workers and vote counters.

In the South Baldwin precinct, the turnout was so high that late in the day poll workers ran out of machine-read ballots. About 30 voters in that precinct cast their votes on ballots that had to counted by hand. Those ballots were not included in the unofficial totals released Tuesday night but will be counted during the official ballot canvas Friday.

Several other precincts requested and received additional ballots to keep up with voter demand, Mrs. Jaimes said.

At the Douglas County Courthouse, the clickety-clack of the automatic ballot-counting machines began at about 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes after the polls closed, when election officials began tallying absentee ballots.

A small gathering that included candidates, their supporters and media representatives milled about on the second floor of the courthouse as returns were announced.

ERVIN STEELE, who was unsuccessful in his bid for the Republican nomination in the 46th House District, was in attendance and sporting the trademarks of his campaign a "Born Free, Taxed to Death" shirt and a cap asking voters to "Dump Dole," a reference to Kansas' senior U.S. senator.

John Solbach, the incumbent in the 45th House District who had no Democratic opposition, joked with reporters about the free publicity he could receive by coming to the election-night courthouse activities.

Ellis Hayden, taking his defeat in GOP primary for the 1st District County Commission in good spirits, told reporters he'd now try his hand at writing a book after his third election attempt.

Other candidates who stopped in at the courthouse included Barbara Ballard and Sandy Praeger, who will face each other for the 44th House District seat, and Joe Gilman, who lost his Democratic primary to Ballard; Martha Parker, who will square off with Solbach in the 45th, and Richard Rodewald, who lost to Parker in the GOP primary; and Betty Jo Charlton and Sean Williams, who are the nominees for the 46th House District seat.

ELECTION officials posted updated results on a pair of chalkboards at the courthouse with each passing half hour. By 8:20 p.m., when poll workers arrived from the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, all of the county's ballots had reached the courthouse. It took only another 35 minutes to count the rest of the ballots and post the results.

Results will be declared official on Friday when the Douglas County Commission canvasses ballots. Mrs. Jaimes said changes in the numbers will come Friday, but she doesn't expect the outcome of any race to change from the canvassing.

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