Fewer than one in seven registered voters in Douglas County cast ballots in area elections that ended Tuesday.
That’s after 65 polling places had been open for 12 hours Tuesday, which was a day after advance voting closed a 20-day run that had included special Saturday-only vote-ahead-of-time events in Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton.
Not that Jamie Shew is complaining.
“It’s good,” said Shew, who, as county clerk, is the county’s chief elections official. “It’s a good turnout. You would want better, but it’s a pretty good turnout.”
Final unofficial tallies show that 13.4 percent of the county’s 80,042 registered voters cast ballots for Lawrence City Commission, Lawrence school board and other area races.
That’s up from the turnout of 12 percent from city and school board elections two years ago, but Shew cautions against reading too much into the numbers. Back then, of course, the election came just five months after a presidential election, when the county’s voter-registration rolls had extended to more than 84,000 people.
This time around, many of those names have dropped off the eligible-voters list.
Heading into Tuesday’s voting, Shew had carried hopes of posting turnout of nearly 20 percent, which would have been equal to the rate from 2007. But Shew had figured on relatively strong advance-voting totals — 1,051 people had cast ballots ahead of time, either in person or by mail — as being an indication of active voter interest.
Instead, the higher-than-normal advance voting in precincts in eastern Lawrence didn’t continue on Election Day, Shew said, leaving him to speculate that 13 percent may be the base rate for people voting in area elections.