Voter Turnout Less Than Impressive

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

TOPEKA, Kan. - Out of the 76,289 registered voters in Topeka, only 9,919 cast a ballot in the Spring Primary election. That's 13 percent of voters.

Topeka was the only city in Shawnee County with a primary this year. Voters were choosing representatives for city council members in odd numbered districts - with the exception of district 9 - and for City of Topeka Mayor.

This year, the top three candidates in each position move onto the general election, so races that only had three candidates were not included in the primary (which was the case with Topeka city council district 9).

Shawnee County Election Commissioner Elizabeth Ensley said she expected a bigger turnout than 13%. She said many things may have contributed to the small number.

"We don't have a strong mayor form of government anymore," Ensley said. "We also have the mayor's race only narrowed down to three candidates for the general election and so there isn't as much competition; they don't have to campaign as hard this time."

Ensley said it's really the campaigns that turn voters out. "This is awfully low for having a mayor on the ballot."

Despite the low primary voter turnout, Ensley expects more from the general election on April 7th. "We'll have two questions on the ballot and that will make a big difference as well as the fact that that is an election that whoever gets the highest vote... they win it," Ensley said. "If suddenly the stakes are a lot higher, people are gonna be campaigning a lot harder."

The two questions on the April ballot are a half-percent sales tax increase for the City of Topeka, and a charter ordinance that would both clarify the mayor's powers and restore the city council's veto power.

The Board of Canvassers meets on Friday at 9a.m. to make the results official.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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