County Clerks Not Impressed With Earlier Kansas Election

County Clerks Not Impressed With Earlier Kansas Election

Getting a high voter turnout has long been a goal, and in many cases the cause of frustration, for city and county clerks. The elections in Kansas going on today would have already happened this spring. But state lawmakers are seeing if elections should be in the fall from now on.

Many county clerks, however, say issues on the ballots seem to outweigh the timing of the ballots.

Different candidates, with many election similarities.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a complaint,” says Jack Smallwood.

Smallwood is one of those people who votes every time no matter the time. The majority of other voters in Southeast Kansas, though, historically have not shown interest in school board elections.

“Part of it is, ‘It’s just the school board’,” says polling supervisor Brenda Ayers.

Kansas officials are looking to statistics for help to grow voter turnout.

“The state is calling this an experiment,” says Cherokee County Clerk Rod Edmondson.

More voters in Cherokee County have continuously showed up to a fall election than spring election. Some Kansas legislators thought federal elections were too close to spring elections in the state.

“I would hear from voters, ‘Is it time to vote already?’ I can’t say sometimes I didn’t feel that way, personally,” says Edmondson.

Getting more votes was, and still is, the intent. But this experiment is off to a rocky start.

“None of us thought it was a good idea to move the elections,” says Ayers.

Poll supervisors like Ayers worry fall elections may produce lower voter turnouts than spring elections. Voter turnouts this time around were still higher in places with more issues and candidates.

“In Cherokee County, out of 60, 61 positions on the ballots, we have only three contested races,” says Edmondson.

Different candidates, with many election similarities.

“I’ve received phone calls from voters, asking me if there’s anything to go vote on,” says Edmondson.

The short answer is yes. Getting people to care about all the issues on the ballots, though, may take a lot more changing of the seasons.

Edmondson hopes this voter experiment continues for the next three years, just to get a solid interpretation from voter turnouts.