Early returns are in, and Douglas County election officials are predicting a solid voter turnout for today's primary elections.
With 1,293 people already having cast ballots through advance voting -- up 25 percent from the last primary two years ago -- hopes are high for a strong showing when polls open at 7 a.m.
"It's an important primary," said Donna Field, one of 104 voters to cast advance ballots Monday morning at the Douglas County Courthouse. "You have to vote for who you want, or you have to live with everyone else's choices."
Field, a resident of rural Baldwin, certainly beat the heat. Today's temperature is expected to approach 100 degrees, leaving election officials unsure exactly how many of the county's 55,789 registered voters eligible for the primary will show up to nominate Democratic and Republican candidates for federal, state and local elections.
"We're ready, and I think the voters are ready," said Marni Penrod, deputy county clerk for elections. "Hopefully we'll have good turnout."
Penrod and other elections officials spent much of Monday distributing 37,050 ballots to some of the 214 poll workers hired to oversee the county's 67 polling places today. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
New polling places
Population swings and shifting voting patterns led officials to establish six new polling places for today's election:
- Precinct 42, at Church of Christ, 201 N. Mich., has 637 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of splitting the Precinct 4, whose remaining 717 eligible voters will continue to vote at the Lawrence school district's service center, 200 McDonald Drive.
- Precinct 44, at Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road, has 631 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of splitting Precinct 6, whose remaining 746 eligible voters will continue to vote at The Windsor, 3220 Peterson Road.
- Precinct 47, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2211 Inverness Drive, has 479 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of splitting Precinct 19, whose remaining 1,144 eligible voters will continue to vote at Brandon Woods Retirement Community, 1501 Inverness Drive.
- Precinct 48, at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community, 4851 Harvard Road, has 999 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of splitting Precinct 18, whose remaining 1,330 eligible voters will continue to vote at Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive.
- Precinct 49, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, has 609 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of establishing a physical polling place for voters who previously sent in ballots by mail.
- Precinct 50, at Eudora Church of Christ, 1530 Winchester Road in Eudora, has 1,154 eligible voters. The precinct is the result of adding a fourth Eudora precinct to serve new voters and some previously eligible to vote at Precinct 53, at the Eudora Township Fire Department, 310 E. 20th St. in Eudora, and at Precinct 54, at the Eudora Public Library, 114 E. Ninth St. in Eudora.
The new precincts represent only a fraction of the changes in store for today's election.
|After the polls close tonight, return to this site for the latest election results in area primary races.ljworld.com: Live updates throughout the evening.6News: Continuous updates throughout the evening and complete results at 10 p.m.Journal-World: Pick up the Journal-World on Wednesday for results and analysis.|
Patty Jaimes, county clerk, said members of her staff had been working diligently to prepare for the primary, the first election since implementation of new rules that require first-time voters to show proof of identification at polling places.
She also has worked to reduce the likelihood of computer problems slowing up the reporting of results by ordering additional tests on computer equipment to ensure it was ready to go.
But Jaimes herself might not be around to see the numbers come in. The longtime clerk -- she was sworn in as the county's top elections officer in 1981 -- came down with an infection over the weekend and wasn't sure if she'll be able to report for work today.
And even if she does, Jaimes -- who is not seeking re-election -- won't be shaking hands, patting people on the back or getting close enough to breathe on anyone.
"It's a heck of a time to get sick," said Jaimes, who waited until after 5 p.m. Monday to drop by the office to help prepare for today. "I'm on my way out (of office), and here I am falling down on the job. I don't want to miss it, but if I'm all swollen up I probably won't be in."
If she does come in, she said, "I'm going to try to stay away from most people. I'll be behind the scenes."