The voter turnout for the spring primary election – when there was a snowstorm today – was over 5,400 ballots cast by 4 p.m. Feb. 26, according to Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.
“That already beats the number for 2011,” he said. The total includes the advance ballots as well as today's ballots.
Five candidates were on the ballot today in the mayor’s election. Two will go on to the general election. Also on the ballot were candidates for the Unified Government Commission, 1st, 8th, and 2nd District at large.
Two years ago, the primary was a straight Unified Government Commission race. In the last mayoral race, four years ago, the primary turnout was 7,985, he said.
The election turnout this year was boosted by advance voters who on Monday cast a vote at the election office, to avoid being out in the snowstorm on Tuesday. The election office was allowed to stay open until 7 p.m. Monday to let more persons vote in advance of the storm.
“In some locations the voting has been fairly brisk,” Newby said about today’s turnout.
Between 4 and 5 p.m., the Open Door Baptist Church polling place in the Piper area of Kansas City, Kan., had around 200 voters, he noted.
Newby was required by state law to hold the primary election on Tuesday; it could not be canceled or postponed, he said.
In order to get enough election workers to the polls, the polling places were consolidated from 20 to five voting sites in the county. Also, some election staff, including Newby, stayed overnight at the election office in order to be prepared for the early voters.
“With the snow as bad as it was, we did not want to take the chance of not being able to get here,” he said.
Some election workers drove to the polling places in the morning, but a large crew from the UG picked up other election workers starting at 4:30 a.m. and got them safely to the polls, he said.
“It involved a tremendous logistical effort to get to where they had to be,” he said. “All the polls opened on time. They had voters almost immediately.”
Some of the early voters were employees who were in essential positions that had to go to work anyway, he added.
There were 265 voters as of 11 a.m. this morning, and 1,654 by 4 p.m., he said.
A lot of the primary roads in Kansas City, Kan., were plowed by early afternoon today.
Phone calls were received by Wyandotte County residents Monday from different candidates’ campaigns offering rides to the polls on Tuesday.
One of the candidates for mayor had planned to post campaign workers at all the polling places throughout the city that had been changed. The plan was for the campaign workers to direct voters to the nearest open polling place.