Canvass shows that Douglas County’s general election turnout was slightly higher than 2021 off-year election

photo by: Matt Resnick/Journal-World

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew, left, goes over voting totals at the County Elections Office on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. Also pictured are (from left) Kent Brown, Douglas County Register of Deeds, and Douglas County Commissioners Karen Willey and Shannon Reid.

Election officials on Monday finalized the results of this month’s local elections, and found that voter turnout was a bit higher than once thought.

The canvass of Douglas County’s general election Monday morning showed that 26.1% of the county’s more than 79,000 registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 7 election.

Voter turnout was roughly 4% higher than in the off-year city-school election in 2021, but were still far below voter turnout levels of 60% to 70% that are frequently seen in Douglas County during presidential or gubernatorial elections.

Monday’s canvass at the Douglas County Elections Office revealed that voters cast 20,680 ballots, compared with roughly 17,000 ballots in 2021 local elections. In other words, the number of people voting in this month’s elections grew by about 3,600 people compared to the number of voters in last round of city and school board elections two years ago.

The canvass — the process where local election officials review any contested ballots and finalize all vote totals — also confirmed the margins of victory in the Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board races.

Winning four-year seats on the Lawrence school board were incumbents Carole Cadue-Blackwood (8,449 votes) and Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross (6,635), and newcomers Anne Costello (6,958) and Yolanda Franklin (5,966). Shannon Kimball, also an incumbent, won a two-year seat on the board with 7,483 votes. In the City Commission race, former commissioner Mike Dever (9,277) was the leading vote-getter while incumbents Brad Finkeldei (8,006) and Amber Sellers (7,343) retained their seats.

During the canvass, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said that 414 provisional ballots were received. Provisional ballots are those that are cast but election officials must make a decision on whether they can legally be counted, such as a ballot cast by someone who had moved since the last election and not registered under their new address. Of those provisional ballots, 117 were not counted for various reasons. The highest percentage of rejected ballots were received by the mandated Nov. 10 deadline, but were not postmarked by Nov. 7. Other issues included lack of identification and signatures that didn’t match.

According to Shew’s report, 9,081 advance voting ballots were received and 8,949 were counted.

“Advance voting mimicked what we saw in 2021,” Shew told the Journal-World after Monday’s canvass, adding that voting on election day picked up during the afternoon hours.


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