Primary Focus

by Melissa Brunner

Tomorrow, March 1, is Primary Day in Kansas for municipal and school board elections. What? You didn't know? Think you need to study up on the races so you can hit the polls tomorrow? Not so fast - chances are, your polling place won't even be open because there's nothing on your ballot. In the counties includes in our WIBW-TV viewing area, only Shawnee, Lyon, Marshall and Nemaha counties have races on the ballot, and, in Shawnee County, only Topeka City Council Districts 4 and 6 have primaries - not even a school board race required a primary. That's probably why elections commissioner Elizabeth Ensley is predicting only 13 percent turnout - you don't turnout if there's nothing on the ballot!

Is this a sign of apathy? The bright side is that at least all of the Topeka City Council races are contested, though the same can't be said for school board races. Maybe uncontested races aren't a problem, maybe they are. What do you think they say?

And what do you think of the spring elections themselves? State lawmakers are considering a proposal that would move municipal and school board races to November and put them on the even-numbered years, like state and federal races are. Supporters say it would increase turnout, thereby involving more people in the process. Opponents say it would inject more partisanship into the local races.

No matter where you fall on these issues, I hope that if you do have a race on your ballot tomorrow, that you'll take the time to vote. I'd think the importance of voting is something on which both sides of the aisle and the issues can agree.


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