The rain held off Tuesday and so did the voters in Douglas County, with only 26.3 percent of those registered in the county making their way to the polls in the primary election.
In unofficial totals, 9,721 voters cast ballots in the election out of 36,977 registered voters. The low turnout left County Clerk Patty Jaimes wondering why there were so many no-shows.
"I wish I knew," she said. "We're always disappointed when there's a low voter turnout and not really knowing why. I know this is a political party election, and I think there are some people who don't participate because of that."
Jaimes said final turnout figures would change slightly on Friday, when the county commission canvasses ballots. She also said about 30 absentee ballots sent overseas would be hand-counted and added to the totals.
THE TURNOUT was heaviest outside of Lawrence. All precincts outside of the city reported turnouts topping the countywide 26.3 percent mark. Most of the out-of-Lawrence precincts featured two contested races on the ballot.
The Lecompton precinct had the highest turnout with 40.1 percent. In Lawrence, the highest turnout was 33.3 percent from the 5th precinct, 3rd Ward, which voted at Checkers. The smallest turnout was 5.9 percent at the 1st precinct, 3rd ward, which voted at the Central United Methodist Church.
The small turnout at the polls was reflected in the small gathering Tuesday night at the county courthouse, where ballots were counted.
A maximum of about 40 people waited for the last precincts to come in, but the crowd quickly dispersed after final totals were announced shortly after 9 p.m.
The crowd featured many local candidates, including several of those unopposed in the primary who will face each other in the general election. Democrat Barbara Ballard, Lawrence, gave her Republican competitor Brian Kubota, Lawrence, a hug after the results showed Kubota had defeated Michael Walsh, Lawrence, in the Kansas House 44th District primary. Ballard called Kubota a friend who had helped the Lawrence school board, of which Ballard is a member.
KANSAS Insurance Commissioner Ron Todd, Lawrence, also was present throughout most of the evening.
"I'm just interested in who gets elected in the primary," he said. "I've been going to these for 30 years. I like to visit with old friends that's why I came out, to keep in touch."
Russell Getter, associate professor of political science at Kansas University, said some local Republicans had told him that they were "very, very relieved" that U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Overland Park, defeated Kerry Patrick in the 3rd District primary. Getter said he expects Meyers to defeat her Democratic opponent, Tom Love, "rather easily" in the November general election.
Karl Trautman, a Baker University assistant professor of political science, said he thought Patrick's run at Meyers was "a blessing in disguise" for her because it made her get out in the newly reapportioned district and meet the voters.