A highly debated school bond issue, two road issues and a gubernatorial election brought out Lawrence voters in droves this morning.
A pre-noon check by the Journal-World today showed that 22.7 percent or 7,155 of the city's 31,523 voters had gone to the polls in today's general election.
That's slighty ahead of the turnout in 1986, when 21.4 percent had turned out to vote in the city by noon and about 62 percent by the end of the day. That election featured a lively battle for governor and several constitutional questions including liquor by the drink.
Late this morning, Douglas County Clerk Patty Jaimes was standing by her prediction of 65 percent to 70 percent voter turnout in the election.
Mrs. Jaimes said she expected all local ballots to be counted by about 10 p.m. The ballots will start coming in shortly after 7 p.m., when the polls close, she said.
THE FIRST counts to be announced will be absentee ballots. One of those ballots may be the first ever faxed into the county clerk's office. Mrs. Jaimes' office sent a ballot by fax machine to a Lawrence serviceman involved in Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf. Although the completed ballot had not been faxed back by noon, the serviceman has until 7 p.m. to return it to count in the returns.
An updated tally will be kept for most of the races on a chalkboard in the rotunda area on the second floor of the Douglas County Courthouse.
The pre-noon poll check today in Lawrence showed that the highest percentage turnout was at Centennial School, the polling place for the 4th Precinct of the 3rd Ward, where 33.1 percent (152 of the 459 registered) had voted.
The lowest turnout was at Allen Fieldhouse, the 4th Precinct of the 2nd Ward, where just 61 voters, or 5 percent had cast ballots of the 1,188 registered.
"So far the turnout has been dismal," Allen Fieldhouse poll worker Carl Ring said at noon. "But I have friends who probably haven't gotten out of bed yet."
MANY OF the precincts reported that turnout was well above normal. For example, at the Southside Church of Christ, Precinct 7, Ward 3, poll worker Kathy Mulinazzi said that 44 people cast ballots in the first 15 minutes after the polls opened at 7 a.m. At Deerfield School (Precinct 5, Ward 1), poll worker Sarah Woods reported a steady flow of about 100 voters per hour.
The pre-noon turnout by wards was as follows: 1st Ward, 1,035 voters (22.8 percent of those registered); 2nd Ward, 3,192 voters (22.7 percent); 3rd Ward, 1,560 voters (22 percent); 4th Ward, 904 voters (23.3 percent); 5th Ward, 214 voters (20.3 percent); 6th Ward, 250 voters (26.5 percent).
Today's election will give voters across Kansas the chance to pick the state's chief executive for the next four years, the junior U.S. senator and the Kansas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, all 125 seats in the Kansas House of Representatives are up for election.
Patrons of Lawrence School District 497 will decide whether the district can issue $31 million in bonds to build a second high school. Lawrence voters also will be asked to approve a $4 million bond issue to help finance the proposed eastern parkway.
All Douglas County voters will be asked to approve $4 million in bonds for the south Lawrence trafficway.
THE MOST visible race in the state is the battle for governor between Democrat State Treasurer Joan Finney and incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Hayden. Independent Christina Campbell-Cline is rated as a longshot in the run for the governor's office.
Other races include incumbent Republican Sen. Nancy Kassebaum facing Democratic challenger Dick Williams for a six-year term as U.S. senator.
In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Slattery, Topeka, squares off against Republican Scott Morgan, Lawrence.
Each of the four local Kansas House seats also are being contested in today's balloting, with two of those races void of incumbents.
In the 43rd district, Eudora Republican Tom Pyle will face DeSoto Democrat Judith Macy. The winner will take over the seat that has been held for the past 10 years by Rep. David Miller.
In the 44th District, which covers most of west Lawrence, Democrat Barbara Ballard and Republican Sandy Praeger are battling for the chance to take over the seat now held by Rep. Jessie Branson, who is retiring.
Republican Martha J. Parker hopes the third time is the charm as she squares off against Democratic incumbent Rep. John Solbach in the 45th District.
IN THE 46TH District, which covers most of eastern Lawrence, Republican challenger Sean Williams is trying to unseat the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Betty Jo Charlton.
The Douglas County Commission 1st District race features Republican Mark Buhler against Democrat Mike Rundle. Both are trying to succeed Nancy Hiebert, who declined to seek re-election for a third term.