Archive for Thursday, November 7, 2002

Voter turnout tops expectations

Tight races for governor, AG, 3rd District boosted numbers at polls

November 7, 2002


— Turnout in Tuesday's election slightly surpassed expectations, officials said, with 51.5 percent of the state's registered voters casting a ballot.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh's office reported Wednesday the unofficial turnout figure was 832,208. Thornburgh had predicted 820,000 Kansans would vote.

"Obviously, it's kind of a bittersweet thing," Thornburgh said of the turnout nearly matching his prediction.

The final turnout numbers will be made official when the state Board of Canvassers meets Nov. 29. By that date, all provisional ballots will have been counted, as well as any remaining overseas ballots.

Thornburgh said aside from two minor glitches, including a delay in getting a voting machine running in Wichita, the election proceeded without incident.

Thornburgh said voter interest was enhanced by races for governor, attorney general and the 3rd District congressional seat in northeast Kansas. Traditionally, elections in years when the president is not chosen have lower turnout.

Republican and Democratic party volunteers were highly active in getting voters to participate in the election in which Democrat Kathleen Sebelius won the gubernatorial race.

Nearly 743,000 of the state's voters are registered Republican, compared to 441,000 Democrats and 420,000 unaffiliated.

Going to the pollsHere's a look at Douglas County voter turnout in the past five midterm elections:¢ Nov. 5, 2002 57 percent (31,550 voters out of 55,819 registered)¢ Nov. 3, 1998 47 percent(26,144 voters out of 55,264 registered)¢ Nov. 8, 1994 57 percent (27,666 voters out of 48,874 registered)¢ Nov. 6, 1990 64 percent (25,919 voters out of 40,602 registered)

Efforts intensified after Oct. 16, the first day election officials were allowed to mail advance ballots to potential voters. Those ballots are valid so long as they are returned before polls close.

Some county election officials have said they saw more people requesting advance ballots. In 2000, about 182,000 were cast, or 16.7 percent of the total.

Thornburgh said advanced ballots are typically popular with about 15 percent of voters in any election. But he did not expect advanced voting to replace going to the polls.

"There's still 85 percent who enjoy the community aspect and voting with their neighbors," Thornburgh said.

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