About 15,000 Douglas County voters to have new polling places

The exterior of the Theatre Lawrence building, 4660 Bauer Farm Drive, is shown on June 10, 2013. According to the list of Douglas County polling places, it is one of several new or temporary polling places for the 2016 elections.

Douglas County voters may have to do some studying about whom they want to support at the polls, but before that, quite a few may have to do homework to figure out how to get to the polls.

About 15,000 Douglas County residents have new polling places this year, in large part because many of the Lawrence school buildings that host elections are under construction.

“That’s a big chunk of voters, and that always makes me a little bit nervous,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew.

All registered voters impacted by a change in polling places should have received multiple mailings from Shew’s office notifying them of their new locations. People unsure about where they are supposed to vote can go to the county clerk’s website at douglascountyelections.com. They they can use a voter registration search that allows them to find their polling location by entering their name and birthdate.

More than a dozen polling places have been affected by renovation work at local school buildings. Another five polling places have changed because of population growth. Shew said several precincts, especially in western Lawrence, were routinely serving more than 3,000 voters. Shew said he split those precincts up in an effort to make the voting process more efficient.

Shew, on Friday, said the number of people casting advance ballots had begun to increase significantly over the last few days. He thought a break in the extremely hot temperatures from earlier in the month had led to the uptick.

Despite the recent increase, Shew wasn’t ready to predict that turnouts would be any better than average, which is about 20 percent to 25 percent for precinct races.

“Right now, there is not a lot at the top of the ticket driving new people out to vote,” Shew said.

Shew, though, said activity levels in the Douglas County Commission’s 3rd District, which includes much of Lawrence south and west of Sixth and Iowa streets and much of western Douglas County have been increasing in recent days. Four candidates — two from both parties — are vying for the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Commissioner Jim Flory, who is not seeking re-election.

Shew reminds voters that they will need to bring a form of identification to comply with voter ID laws. Any government-issued, photo ID will suffice. Shew said a driver’s license is most often used, although passports also are common. If voters forget to bring their identification cards, they still will be allowed to vote a ballot. Those ballots will be set aside as provisional ballots and will be counted if the voters can produce their identification cards before the final vote tally — called a canvass — is completed on Aug. 11, Shew said.