Past voter turnout for City Commission elections:2005: 38 percent2003: 33 percent2001: 19 percent1999: 23 percent
School Board Election 2007
School Board Race
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City commission race 2007
City commission race
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How many voters and where they'll come from, though, are very much open questions heading into the election.
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said he'd be "really thrilled" with a 25 percent turnout in the general election, but said that may be optimistic.
"Our advance voter turnout has been running behind what it was two years ago," Shew said. "My hope is that will just mean a strong voter turnout at the polls, but usually advance turnout is a good predictor of turnout on election day."
Shew late last week said advance voter turnout was about 60 percent below totals from the same time period in 2005. The 2005 general election, though, produced a high voter turnout - 38 percent - by Douglas County standards. The election featured a question on a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Voters will determine the winners of three at-large seats on the five-member City Commission. There's a field of six candidates: James Bush, the former pastor at First Southern Baptist Church; Rob Chestnut, the chief financial officer at Allen Press; Mike Dever, the owner of an environmental consulting firm; Commissioner Boog Highberger, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Carey Maynard-Moody, a retired school social worker; and Commissioner David Schauner, general counsel of the Kansas National Education Association. Commissioner Mike Rundle is not seeking re-election.
Voters will choose four winners for seats on the school board. There is a field of eight candidates: Mary Loveland, longtime school volunteer; Michael Machell, a human capital partner for Ingenix; Marlene Merrill, former Lawrence school administrator; Rich Minder, collaborative projects coordinator for the Success by Six Coalition of Douglas County; Scott Morgan, president of Morgan Quitno Press; Michael Pomes, environmental scientist; Robert Rauktis, retired neuroradiologist; and Victor Sisk, a retired music teacher.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Candidates likely will be interested in not only how many voters show up to the polls but also which part of the city they're from. In the February City Commission primary - which produced a turnout of 14 percent - west Lawrence residents came out in greater numbers than east Lawrence residents.
Out of the 49 Lawrence precincts, there were 11 precincts that had a voter turnout of 20 percent or more. Nine of the 11 precincts were west of Iowa Street. On the flip side, there were also 11 precincts that had voter turnout of less than 10 percent. Ten of the 11 precincts were east of Iowa Street.
That split was not kind to the two incumbents. Of the nine high-turnout precincts west of Iowa Street, Schauner did not finish in the top three of any of the them and Highberger finished in the top three of just one. Chestnut and Dever finished in the top three in all nine of the precincts. Bush finished in the top three in eight of them.
Longtime political observer and former Lawrence Mayor Bob Moody said he's not sure what's driving such a geographical split in the city.
"The one thing it may indicate is that the people west of Iowa have some frustrations - for whatever reasons - and they're taking them out at the polls," Moody said.
Overall, though, Moody said the citywide voter turnout rate was "abysmal."
Shew said he was keeping a close eye on voter turnout issues, but said he couldn't find a definitive reason why turnout was low. He said one factor may be that voters are simply getting worn out. Tuesday's election will be the fourth since August.
"Maybe there has been some voter fatigue," Shew said. "Hopefully that won't be the case on Tuesday."