Lawrence voters appeared to be somewhat apathetic about today's presidential preference primary even though it's the state's first since 1980.
A pre-noon check by the Journal-World today showed that 8.29 percent or 2,251 of the 27,125 voters in the city's precincts had gone to the polls in today's primary election.
The morning turnout is well below Lawrence's pre-noon turnout in the 1980 presidential primary, when 13.3 percent of registered voters had gone to the polls.
The 1980 primary ended up with a total of 44 percent of the city's registered voters casting ballot. The high interest was attributed to many Kansas University students who went out to vote for Republican John Anderson, who spoke on campus that year.
Polls are open today until 7 p.m.
DOUGLAS COUNTY Clerk Patty Jaimes said she was expecting today's turnout to be about 35 percent.
"But I don't know if that's going to hold or not," Jaimes said.
Jaimes said she didn't think there was as much interest among the voters this time.
"From time to time, it seemed people were excited, then things calmed down and people didn't mention the election," she said. "I don't think there is any one candidate who has all that much charisma to draw people out to vote."
Kansas Secretary of State Bill Graves has predicted that 400,000 Kansans would participate in today's primary, which he says is better than the 50,000 people who historically turn out for party caucuses.
Graves said he expects 175,000 Republicans, 150,000 Democrats and 75,000 unaffiliated voters to go to the polls today.
VOTERS have a choice today between 17 Democratic candidates and 15 Republican candidates for president.
President Bush is expected to win all of Kansas' 30 Republican delegates. Other prominent Republicans on the ballot are newspaper columnist Patrick Buchanan and former klansman David Duke.
The Democratic front-runners are Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and former California Gov. Jerry Brown. Paul Tsongas, who pulled out of the race but is expected to announce Wednesday whether he will re-enter, is also on the ballot.
Clinton made a brief stop Monday night at an airport rally in Topeka in a last-minute bid to attract voters. The event made Clinton the only major candidate to stop in Kansas in person in a bid for the state's 42 Democratic or 30 Republican delegates.
``It took me awhile, but I got here,'' Clinton told the cheering crowd of about 500 supporters who greeted him and his wife, Hillary, who earlier had made a campaign swing through Topeka.
DURING A 22-minute speech, Clinton said he identified with Kansas because of its proximity to Arkansas.
The main reason major candidates all but ignored Kansas is because they centered their attention on the New York and Wisconsin primaries, which are also being held today.
Several local poll workers were disappointed in the low turnouts this morning.
Peggy Porter, supervising judge at polling place at First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold, called the 5.71 percent turnout the precinct had by noon "terrible."
"At least we feel like it is," Porter said. "We've been here almost five hours. We don't know what we're doing here."
However, Helen Buhler, a poll worker at the Southside Church of Christ, 25th and Missouri, said, "We've had a couple of people say it's better to come do it in person than in the caucuses."
TURNOUTS in the city indicated that the higher turnouts were in eastern and central Lawrence precincts that have a traditionally higher number of Democratic voters. Lower turnouts were in western Lawrence precincts, considered to be higher in Republican voters.
The pre-noon poll check today in Lawrence showed that the highest percentage turnout was at Central Junior High School, the polling place for the 1st Precinct of the 4th Ward, where 15.7 percent (100 of the 636 registered) had voted.
The lowest turnout was at Allen Fieldhouse, the 4th Precinct of the 2nd Ward, where 10 voters, or 1.28 percent had cast ballots of the 779 registered. The Allen Fieldhouse precinct is an area predominantly populated by students.
THE PRE-NOON turnout by wards was as follows: 1st Ward, 320 voters (8.42 percent of those registered); 2nd Ward, 988 voters (7.81 percent); 3rd Ward, 467 voters (8.3 percent); 4th Ward, 326 voters (9.7 percent); 5th Ward, 84 voters (9.98 percent); 6th Ward, 66 voters (7.7 percent).
Mrs. Jaimes said she expected the results to be in between 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., if the voter turnout remains low.
Ballots will start coming in shortly after 7 p.m., when the polls close, she said.
A updated tally will be kept for most of the primary races on a chalkboard in the rotunda area on the second floor of the Douglas County Courthouse, she said.