More than 37,000 ballots cast in Douglas County by 3 p.m. on Election Day
photo by: Dylan Lysen/Journal-World photo
Update: 3:50 p.m. Tuesday
Many first-time voters cast their ballots at the University of Kansas’ Burge Union on Tuesday.
A line of KU students stretched out the door of the conference room where ballot booths were set up for the students who live and are registered to vote on Daisy Hill.
Tyler McLaughlin, an 18-year-old KU student from Maize, said he was excited to cast his first ballot. He said he wanted to vote because he learned the importance of his civic duty and responsibility during a U.S. history class in high school.
“Just taking that class inspired me, and I need to vote to cause the change I want to see in the world,” he said.
As of 3 p.m., Douglas County has recorded a total of 37,334 ballots cast throughout the county, with 14,980 cast on Election Day. Polls close at 7 p.m.
Based on the numbers at an early voting location on campus, student voting in midterm elections seems to have increased this year. While younger voters are often considered as the least likely to cast a ballot in midterm elections, McLaughlin said he’s seen a lot of people his age making sure they voted.
“All of my friends are voting and a lot of them are doing early voting,” he said.
Addison Balderston, a 19-year-old student from St. Louis, also cast her first ballot at the Burge Union. She said she’s excited to cast a ballot for the candidates in the Republican Party.
“Unfortunately I was not old enough for the presidential election (in 2016), but I still went with my mom because I believe in voting,” she said.
KU students were also casting ballots off campus. Katherine Lamar, a 20-year-old KU student who voted at the Carnegie Building at 200 W. Ninth St., said she was inspired by candidates this year to vote for the first time.
“The sides are so opposite that this year, this election, there have been people who are coming from a middle ground,” she said. “It’s really the first time I’ve read the news and gotten interested in the political candidates so I thought it was important.”
Lamar, who is from Prairie Village, did not vote in the 2016 election, although she was old enough. She said her voting experience went well and noted that she was surprised the ballot included pen and paper.
Halie Larimore, a 22-year-old student from Wichita, said she was voting for the second time. She said she believes this election is “extremely important.”
She has seen a major push from her peers on social media to get young people to vote.
“The situation in our country right now needs more people voting, especially young people,” she said.
Voters in Douglas County are out to make their voices heard.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Douglas County clerk’s office reported that 8,258 people had cast ballots on Election Day. The polls opened for the final day of voting on several close races in Kansas, including the governor’s race and the 2nd congressional district race.
The polls close at 7 p.m.
Before Tuesday, thousands had already voted, said Heather Dill, Douglas County deputy of elections. Almost 22,400 votes were cast in early voting or returned through absentee ballots, which is about the same that were cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said the early ballots, which the county is still receiving through mail and via drop-off at the Douglas County Courthouse, were sure to pass the county’s early-ballots record of 23,000 in 2016.
“We’ll be over that,” he said. “It’ll be more than we’ve ever done in any election, presidential or midterm.”
Additionally, many more people have cast early ballots at a voting location on the University of Kansas campus, he said. He did not have the total number available, but he said he knew it was much higher, which suggests a larger college voter turnout this year.
“One day it beat all of our locations, and that’s never happened,” he said. “It’s been a far better turnout since I’ve started doing it up on campus.”
So far a total of 30,612 votes have been cast by the 79,897 registered voters, a 38 percent turnout. In 2014, 39,000 votes were cast in Douglas County.
Shew predicted on Monday that the county would see a larger voter turnout than the midterm elections in 2014.
Pressed during a Douglas County Commission meeting for a total turnout percentage, Shew estimated that about 45,000 of the county’s registered voters would vote in the general election, breaking the 2014 midterm turnout by 6,000 votes. By comparison, more than 50,000 voters have turned out in recent presidential election years, he said at the meeting.
On Tuesday, he said he believes passing the 39,000 mark is still “completely doable.”
This story is developing. Check back for updates.