The excitement from four years ago largely was gone, but the blue tint to Douglas County remained Tuesday night.
President Barack Obama won an easy victory in Douglas County Tuesday night, and Democrats in local races cruised to large victories.
Fewer residents, however, turned out to vote in Douglas County compared with four years ago, and the raucous celebrations of 2008 were replaced by mainly lethargic crowds filing out of the Douglas County Courthouse well before final vote tallies were announced about 10:15 p.m.
“I did not sense there was quite the intensity of support for probably either presidential candidate as there was in 2008,” said Rep. Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat who serves as the Kansas House Minority leader and who faced no opposition Tuesday in his district. “But I sensed it would be a good night for Democrats here. We have a very organized Democratic Party here.”
President Obama beat GOP-nominee Mitt Romney 59.88 percent to 36.44 percent in Douglas County. Obama fell short of capturing the 64.68 percent of the vote that he won in Douglas County four years ago.
Far fewer voters also turned out for this election. Voter turnout was listed at 59.45 percent, although the total is expected to rise some as about 2,600 provisional and overseas ballots are added to the total in the coming days. In 2008, turnout was at 64.68 percent and a record of nearly 54,000 voters cast ballots in the election.
At the end of Tuesday night, county election officials had counted 46,781 ballots.
“We did have some student turnout in this election, but it wasn’t to the extent that it was in 2008,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew.
Shew, though, said several nonstudent neighborhoods in the city had very strong turnout, with levels of more than 75 percent.
The election was the first where voters were required to show photo identification at the polls. Shew said he heard of very few problems related to the new voter identification rules.
“I think for the most part it went very well,” Shew said. “I think most people were prepared.”
Shew said he gave strict instructions to his poll workers that no one would be denied a ballot because he or she did not have proper photo identification. Instead, registered voters without photo identification were given a provisional ballot.
Voters will have between now and Nov. 15, when the ballots are officially canvassed by Douglas County commissioners, to produce a valid photo identification.
Shew said the county had about 2,200 provisional ballots, but he was unsure how many were related to voter identification issues. There are multiple other reasons a ballot can be cast as provisional, he said.
Shew said his office will call all voters who cast a provisional ballot because of a voter identification issue to remind them that they must bring in their photo IDs before their ballots will be counted.
“We have made a very firm commitment that no voter would be disenfranchised,” Shew said.