Topeka — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach predicted Thursday that the state would see a 68 percent voter turnout in Tuesday's elections.
Kobach said during a news conference that if the prediction held true that it would be the smallest percentage of Kansas voters casting ballots in a general election since 2000, when turnout was 67 percent.
Both 2000 and 2012 are oddities in Kansas elections in that they are points in the election cycles where there are no races for statewide offices, including U.S. Senate races.
In 2008, when 72 percent of Kansas voters cast ballots, those campaigns were aggressive in encouraging voters to get to the polls, either in person or through advance voting, Kobach said.
"That's not happening," the Republican secretary of state said. "I'm challenging voters to prove me wrong."
All four of the state's U.S. House members are seeking re-election this year, but only the 2nd District and 4th District have contested races. All 125 seats in the Kansas House and all 40 in the state Senate are being contested. Five of the 10 seats on the State Board of Education are on the ballot, but only three are contested.
Kansas voters also are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would change the way boats are classified for property tax purposes. The change would lower the taxation rate on watercraft and is being sought by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism as a means for encourage more Kansas residents to purchase boats and register them in the state.
Kobach said he hoped voters proved him wrong on Tuesday as they did in the August primary when he set the bar too low for turnout. He expected an 18.5 percent turnout for the primary, while the final count was 23 percent. However, he said the slower pace of advance voting didn't give him too much optimism that turnout would be high.
As of Thursday, 244,964 advance ballots had been cast, including 110,616 in person at county election sites. Nearly 300,000 advance ballots were cast in 2008.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who isn't on the ballot, began a two-day motorcycle tour through eastern and central Kansas to promote GOP legislative candidates and encourage residents to vote. Brownback has been active in supporting conservative candidates this election cycle, particularly those seeking Senate seats.