Both local and state officials are predicting a lower voter turnout in Tuesday’s general than during the last presidential election in 2008.
McPherson County had a 78 percent voter turnout rate in 2008. McPherson County Clerk Cathy Schmidt said Friday she expected that to drop to 70 to 75 percent this year.
The number of registered voters in the county also has declined from 17,330 in 2008 to 15,681 in 2012.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach predicted Thursday the state would see a 68 percent voter turnout in Tuesday's elections.
Kobach said during a news conference if the prediction held true, it would be the smallest percentage of Kansas voters casting ballots in a general election since 2000, when turnout was 67 percent.
Both 2000 and 2012 are oddities in Kansas elections in that they are points in the election cycles where there are no races for statewide offices, including U.S. Senate races.
In 2008, when 72 percent of Kansas voters cast ballots, those campaigns were aggressive in encouraging voters to get to the polls, either in person or through advance voting, Kobach said.
“That’s not happening,” the Republican secretary of state said. “I’m challenging voters to prove me wrong.”
All four of the state’s U.S. House members are seeking re-election this year, but only the 2nd District and 4th District have contested races.
U.S. Rep Tim Huelskamp is unopposed in his bid for re-election in the 1st District, which represents McPherson County.
All 125 seats in the Kansas House and all 40 in the state Senate are being contested. Five of the 10 seats on the State Board of Education are on the ballot, but only three are contested.
Democrat Pam Lawson will face Incumbent Republican Clark Shultz in the general election Tuesday for the Kansas House Dist. 73 seat, and Libertarian Jesse Bryant will take on Incumbent Jay Emler for Kansas Senate Dist. 35 seat, which represent McPherson County.
Only one McPherson County Commission seat is being contested. Democrat Bob Carson is taking on Republican Linus Linaweaver for the Dist. 2 seat.
Treasurer candidate Brenda Becker, sheriff candidate Larry Powell, county clerk candidate Cathy Schmidt, register of deeds candidate Laurie Wiziarde and county commission Dist. 3 candidate Ron Loomis, who are all Republicans, all are running unopposed.
McPherson County Attorney Republican David Page has no Democrat challenger on the ballot, but supporters of his primary opponent, attorney Brian Bina, have mounted a write-in effort.
Kansas voters also are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would change the way boats are classified for property tax purposes. The change would lower the taxation rate on watercraft and is being sought by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism as a means for encourage more Kansas residents to purchase boats and register them in the state.
Page 2 of 2 - Kobach said he hoped voters proved him wrong on Tuesday as they did in the August primary when he set the bar too low for turnout. He expected an 18.5 percent turnout for the primary, while the final count was 23 percent. However, he said the slower pace of advance voting didn’t give him too much optimism that turnout would be high.
As of Thursday, 244,964 advance ballots had been cast, including 110,616 in person at county election sites. Nearly 300,000 advance ballots were cast in 2008.
As of Friday afternoon, 2,017 advance ballots had been cast in McPherson County.
Advance voting at the McPherson County Clerk’s office closes at noon Monday. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. You must present a valid photo ID issued by a state agency. A driver’s license or state photo ID can be used.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who isn’t on the ballot, began a two-day motorcycle tour through eastern and central Kansas to promote GOP legislative candidates and encourage residents to vote. Brownback has been active in supporting conservative candidates this election cycle, particularly those seeking Senate seats.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.