Election Day shows higher voter turnout in Shawnee County

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) Shawnee County saw higher than expected voter turnout for Tuesday's elections.

Elections officials updated Wednesday that 18.3% of voters in Shawnee County showed up at the polls.

Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said, "It's been several years since we've seen numbers like this."

He said they had predicted an 11-12% voter turnout for this year's elections.

"It turned out to be 18.3 so that's up significantly, well beyond our initial assumptions," Howell said.

He said their initial projections are based on historical analysis.

"Mail traffic and walk-in traffic here at the office used to be a pretty good indicator, but I think it's changing," said Howell, "I think voter habits, voter influences, active candidates, other community influences and I sometimes wonder if social media also plays in a little more than it used to as well."

While all factors may influence the larger numbers, he said people are what truly lead the change.

"I think there were a lot of people working in the community to get that turnout up. I heard a lot of groups talking about it like, 'Hey let's prove them wrong'. So, clearly that message was received by enough voters," said Howell.

Howell believes this positive trend in voter behavior can only benefit the community going forward.

He said, "People are starting to engage, they're starting to look at the candidates and the issues, and make their voice heard so it's always a good thing."

The race for Topeka City Council District 8 remains up in the air, with an even split between Spencer Duncan and incumbent Jeff Coen.

Howell plans to release an update Friday, once all advance ballots are received in the mail.

Numbers will not be finalized until provisional ballots are counted during the vote canvass next Thursday, November 14th.