Nearly 37,000 Douglas County residents are eligible to cast August primary election ballots for races ranging from U.S. Senate to county precinct chair.
Preliminary Douglas County figures released today show 36,977 residents are registered to vote. That includes 28,659 in Lawrence.
County Clerk Patty Jaimes said the county's registration figure will drop slightly as ineligible voters are purged from the rolls this week. The primary is Aug. 4.
Jaimes said the countywide total increased by 3,900 over 1988, the last presidential election year. Lawrence registration picked up 3,000 in the same period.
Part of the increase was due to population growth in the county, Jaimes said. She also credited Ross Perot, who considered a run for president, for convincing people to register.
"There were some people who came in and registered to vote who had let their registration lapse in years past," she said.
JAIMES also said the county's registration will grow from Aug. 5 until the books close Oct. 19 for the November general election. In November 1988, 40,574 voters registered in the county.
Jaimes said she didn't have a good feel yet for potential turnout at the primary. There are no special questions on the ballot to spark interest.
"The 3rd District congressional race is picking up. And there are some contested races for state representative," she said.
Of the 36,977 county residents currently registered, 15,295 are Republicans and 11,597 are Democrats. There are 9,996 people in the county with no party affiliation and 89 registered as Libertarians.
There are several Republican primaries, including the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bob Dole and Richard Rodewald, plus several Kansas House districts.
On the Democratic side, the lone local primaries involve U.S. Senate hopefuls Gloria O'Dell and Fred Phelps, and 3rd District U.S. House candidates State Rep. Tom Love and George Davis.
There are no primary races involving Libertarian candidates.
INDEPENDENT voters can participate in the primary by declaring a party affiliation at their polling place on Aug. 4; to return to undeclared status, the voter must fill out a new registration form following the primary.
Before the 1988 primary, Douglas County had 33,031 registered to vote. The breakdown: 12,837 Republican, 11,997 unaffiliated, 8,188 Democrat and nine Libertarian.
At this point, the county's voter rolls list 28,659 Lawrence residents. Throughout the remainder of the county, 8,318 are registered. In 1988, the city had 25,593 and the rest of the county had 7,438.
Of the 409 absentee ballots requested so far, 171 were returned by this morning. Absentee ballots must be in the county clerk's office by 7 p.m. Aug. 4 to be valid.