Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Voter turnout hits 13 percent in Douglas County

April 6, 2011


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.


Maddy Griffin 6 years, 11 months ago

How sad. Does this mean that only one in seven of us gets to complain about the Commissioners and the school board over the next couple of years? You folks should be ashamed. 13% indeed.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 11 months ago

you know it's never worked that way. honestly, I think most people don't care if they make a change or not with their vote, I think people just like to complain.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

How in the world is 13% considered a "good" turnout?

It's horrible.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

These elections are scheduled for these obscure dates precisely to keep turnout down. How the taxpayers can manage to pay for more than one election every other November, I can't say.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago


And, even if that's the case, it's better than the "greater" of two evils.

ksjayhawk74 6 years, 11 months ago

That's basically the definition of voter apathy. It's also why we end up with dirty politicians, because not enough informed voters bother to show up... They think that even if they do vote, it doesn't matter, so f**k it...

If we had 100% voter turnout, we would have much, much better leadership.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

An individual vote only makes a big difference in the case of a tie.

But groups of individuals make differences greater than that.

Do you really not vote?

usnsnp 6 years, 11 months ago

Some comments on the voting turnout. I agree that there too many elections, why cannot things be changed so voting for all elected offices is done in November every other year as the same time that we vote for state and national offices. Secondly if you did not vote, you do not have any justification in complaining about what our national, state or local leaders are doing.

MyName 6 years, 11 months ago

I understand the point, but I disagree with it: what if none of the above choices are any good? Should you waste the time turning in a blank ballot?

Matt O'Reilly 6 years, 11 months ago

Burge Union had a 0.3% turnout. That's 4 people, roughly, out of the total registered. I hope those poll workers had a good book on them.

Boosh 6 years, 11 months ago

Wow, says 1179 comments on this story. Ghost posties are busy. I do have to ask the ghost posties one question though.

U mad?


workinghard 6 years, 11 months ago

I wonder is his intent is to slow down the website, but it doesn't seem to affect it. I'm surprised LJW doesn't file a harassment with intent to do damages suit against him.

MyName 6 years, 11 months ago

I vote in most elections, but if there's nothing on the ballot, you don't have a kid in a local school, and you don't think much of any of the city council candidates, then what's the point? I'd be better off not voting rather then voting when I don't know anything about any of them and don't care. I guess that's the definition of apathy.

rwwilly 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Myname. If I have absolutely no interest or knowledge of some elected office or official, why bother? If I have no interest it is likely the incumbent is performing adequately. Most of these people are (in the end) clerks duty bound to do what the law requires them to do. If I don't have personal knowledge of the incumbent or the challenger, I am likely to do as much harm as good.

pea 6 years, 11 months ago

So let me get this straight - you're defending your apathy and your ignorance and we should all actually thank you?

Not having a kid in school is a poor excuse. Your taxes are being obligated by these people and that should be enough reason to spend a few hours to get a feel for who's who.

rwwilly 6 years, 11 months ago

Yep, you get it now. I defend my apathy. I don't go to baseball games (pro or otherwise) although I like sports. I don't mountain climb or fish or eat cucumbers, either. I don't care about those things. I am apathetic to them...uninterested. If I thought a greater degree of apathy would lower my property taxes as I, too, have no children in schools and never have had I would be even more apathetic. If I could lower my taxes via referendum, I would gladly partake in that vote. I vote in almost all national elections and always have.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Why do you vote in national elections and not local ones?

It's pretty clear that, on a certain level, local elections affect one's life more immediately and obviously.

paperjam 6 years, 11 months ago

I believe that there should be eVoting in addition to the mailed in ballots and voting centers. In the digital age, one should have to do little more than verify their identity and unique PIN to vote online. In addition, a voting page could have an unbiased bio about each candidate.

Does anybody believe this wouldn't at least triple the voting turnout in addition to making people more educated in their voting process?

BigPrune 6 years, 11 months ago

This is why the fringe in Lawrence continues to have such power. If more people paid attention and voted, our world would be a much better place.

I wonder how the fringe would react if the "normal" people actually voted?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

I'd like to see some evidence that it's the "fringe" who voted.

Last time I looked, the turnout results were higher west of Iowa than east of it.

And, you'll notice that Sven wasn't elected.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

An article I just saw put the numbers at about 17% west of Iowa, and about 11-12% east of Iowa.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

I voted and felt good afterwards, but none of the candidates were that appealing. I just don't know them that well.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 11 months ago

I have a guaranteed way to increase turnout.

Make election day is a holiday. you get a ticket when you vote which can be used for half price drinks all day long, free cab rides and the Pope pronounces that no sins are counted against you before sunrise.

We offer a toast to the victors at midnight.

satie 6 years, 11 months ago

Good grief! No wonder this town is so screwed up. We're Texas residents working in Lawrence and we absentee vote in every election in Austin/Texas so don't say you can't manage to vote in a local election. rwwilly and a few others, you stupid asses, you are one reason our taxes are so freaking high.

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