County election officials anticipate a slight dip in voter turnout this presidential election year.
Advance voter turnout is down from 2008, according to election commissioner Brian Newby. Several weeks ago, he thought 75 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot in the 2012 general election.
One week after advance walk-in voting began, he thinks that number might be slightly lower at 73 percent. Initially, he anticipated seeing about 10,000 voters per week during advanced walk-in voting. Now he expects about 7,000 per week.
“I don’t think it’s going to be ridiculously low,” Newby said. “But that’s just what I’m thinking eight days before the election. It’s still a big guess.”
The first indication that turnout might dip was when the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election passed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16. In 2008, when the clock struck 5 p.m. on the registration deadline, Newby said there was a line of people going out the door at the election office.
This year when registration closed, there was one car in the parking lot, he said.
The ballot in 2008 included a historical aspect – the possibility and eventuality of electing the first black person to the White House – as well as a statewide U.S. Senate race and a contested race for the U.S. House of Representatives.
There is no Senate race on the ballot in Kansas this year, and while the race for Rep. Kevin Yoder’s seat in the House is contested, there is no Democrat on the ballot.
“Those are two races that aren’t generating their own turnout this year,” Newby explained.
Every seat in the Kansas Legislature is up for grabs, however, Newby said those races are typically very local in nature and don’t drive voters to the polls countywide.
“It seems slows,” Newby said. “But it’s just hard to gauge.”
Large swaths of voters are casting ballots at the advance walk-in location at Metcalf South shopping center.
“Our parking lot at the election office is less full, and then we see the numbers at the end of the day and Metcalf South got slammed,” he said.
Wait times are short at the Great Mall walk-in location, but Newby anticipates a heavy turnout on Saturday.
Walk-in voting began one day earlier this year, on Monday rather than the Tuesday two weeks before the election. That makes comparing this year’s numbers difficult.
“It may be that this week will be outrageous and we’ll look back and Election Day will be busy,” Newby said. “I certainly don’t want to say anything that will dampen turnout.”
Walk-in advance voting locations are open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Metcalf South – west entrance, 9531 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park; the Great Mall – across from the license bureau, 20345 W. 151st., Olathe; and Ten Quivira Plaza, 12156 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Shawnee. Those locations are open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Johnson County Election Office, 2101 E. Kansas City Rd., is open for voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 2; and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. The election office is the only advance voter location that will be open on Monday the day prior to the general election. On Nov. 5, the office will be open for voting from 8 a.m. to noon.
General election polls will open in 221 locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Visit LINK to find individual polling places on Election Day.