Archive for Thursday, June 29, 2006

Higher election turnout begins with registration

June 29, 2006

If Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer had her way, every primary election would generate a 50 percent to 60 percent voter turnout.

History, however, isn't on her side.

Four years ago, the primary for the fall election generated a 16.3 percent voter turnout in Leavenworth County.

Two years ago, the August primary had a 27 percent turnout.

There's a pattern in off-year elections, even with a gubernatorial race. Turnout isn't as high, Sheer said.

This is one of those years, and even though seven Republicans are battling to be the party nominee to face incumbent Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, there's only one primary involving a county office. Republicans Sam Maxwell III and J.C. Tellefson are seeking the nomination for the 1st District Leavenworth County Commission seat.

Despite historical precedent, Scheer is hoping there will be enough interest to boost the turnout numbers this year.

"It would be nice if we could get at 27 to 30 percent," she said.

This year's primary is Aug. 1, but there's an earlier date prospective voters need to keep in mind.

That's July 17, the last day to register to vote for the primary, or to change party affiliation.

Scheer said her office wasn't planning any special drive to encourage voter registration, but it's been busy keeping voters mindful of the coming elections.

The county will be using electronic voting machines for the first time, and Scheer and her staff have been out making presentations to educate voters about the new system.

"We are currently out with electronic machines to clubs and different places," Scheer said, noting her staffers carry registration cards for people who need to get registered.

But, she noted, there are many places where prospective voters can register.

In Lansing, the registration sites are City Hall, 800 First Terrace, and Lansing Community Library, 108 S. Second St.

Scheer said she doesn't really have a sense of election interest at this stage.

A lot, she said, ":depends on if candidates come to town and interest people."

But registration, she said, shouldn't be an obstacle to voting.

"There's so many locations where people can register."

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