Archive for Saturday, July 31, 2004

Voter turnout likely to be about 25 percent

July 31, 2004


— Only about one in four registered voters is expected to cast a ballot in Tuesday's primary, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh said Friday.

"We still have work to do in getting more people to be involved in the process," said Thornburgh, the state's chief election official.

Thornburgh predicted a 27 percent voter turnout, or 430,000 out of 1.58 million registered voters.

In 2002, 26 percent of registered voters voted in primaries. Turnout was 27 percent in 2000 and 29 percent in 1998.

A number of hotly contested races are drawing people to the polls, including the GOP primary in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes east Lawrence, Thornburgh said. That contest is between Kris Kobach, Patricia Lightner and Adam Taff.

Thornburgh also noted there were more contested legislative and county races than in recent primaries.

But state GOP Chairman Dennis Jones said the turnout forecast was depressing, considering that primary election turnouts in the early 1990s were in the 35 percent to 40 percent range.

"It is terrible to think that while American troops are overseas defending our nation, only one in four Kansas voters is exercising our most fundamental right," Jones said, urging voters to go to the polls.

Douglas County election officials declined to forecast a turnout number.

There are 56,357 registered voters in the county: 20,072 Republicans, 18,675 unaffiliated, 17,042 Democrats, 499 Libertarian, and 69 Reform Party members.

Douglas County election officials keep turnout results from previous primaries based on party. In 2002, 16.3 percent of Democratic voters and 39.7 percent of Republican voters cast ballots in the primary election.

To try to increase voter participation, the Secretary of State's Office recently launched a new Web site at to educate Kansans on registering to vote.

Brochures with material similar to the Web site have been made available to governmental entities and public libraries.

Thornburgh said the national political party conventions and what is expected to be a close presidential election would attract more people to the polls in November.

"I hope that those things will increase voter turnout for the general election. At the end of the day, what's going to create voter turnout is great interest in a great race, and I think we are going to have a highly contested presidential race this year, and that should drive a lot of interest for the general election as well," he said.

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