It's no surprise that the Kansas secretary of state is predicting a low voter turnout for Tuesday's primary election, but Douglas County voters have every reason to defy that estimate.
The forecast from Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh is that 19.3 percent of Kansas voters, about 319,000, will go to the polls Tuesday. That would be the second lowest primary turnout since at least 1990; only the 18.1 percent turnout in 2006 was lower.
Thornburgh said his prediction was based on "the high number of uncontested races, lack of ballot issues and a generally slow campaign cycle." That may be on target statewide, but it isn't the case in Douglas County.
The most notable local races are for two seats on the Douglas County Commission. The decision by Commissioners Bob Johnson and Jere McElhaney not to seek re-election this year left both seats without incumbents, which triggered more than the usual interest among other candidates.
The county is fortunate to have a full slate of candidates for both the 2nd and 3rd District seats. Two Republicans and two Democrats are campaigning for each of the seats, and the field is made up of strong, committed candidates worthy of your consideration.
Another notable primary race involving much of Douglas County is for the 2nd District congressional seat. That seat now is held by Rep. Nancy Boyda who is unopposed on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, however, Treasurer Lynn Jenkins of Topeka is running against former Rep. Jim Ryun, who is seeking to reclaim the seat Boyda took from him two years ago. The two candidates are staging high-profile campaigns with loads of direct mail pieces and television ads.
In all of these races, the primary election is an important lead-in to November's general election. Many Kansans may have little motivation to go to the polls, but Douglas County voters certainly do. It would be horribly disappointing to have these important races decided by fewer than a fifth of the county's registered voters. Please make time on Tuesday to cast your ballot.