Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Primary election scheduled Tuesday

July 31, 2002

Predicting how many voters will cast ballots in next Tuesday's primary election is a little like trying to read people's minds.

It can be done but not always accurately.

Linda Scheer, who as Leaven-worth County clerk, maintains voter registration rolls and conducts elections, was reluctant to gaze into any crystal ball.

"I really don't know," she said, when asked whether Republican races for governor and attorney general would spark voters' attention.

"Primaries, in themselves, have a downside to them because of the party affiliation. So a lot of times, your unaffiliated voters do not go to vote, which immediately cuts it in third because we're pretty well apportioned with voters."

About 34,600 people are registered to vote in the county. And whether more or fewer of them than usual will vote in the primary is anybody's guess, Scheer said. In the 2000 primary election, 22.2 percent of the county's voters cast ballots. Four years ago, 26.3 percent turned out.

Scheer said she expects to see those percentages continue to drop but not necessarily because fewer people are voting.

In the early 1990s, the law changed about how county election officers can remove people from voter registration rolls.

"We used to be able to, if they missed two November elections in a row, we would take them off and send them a card," Scheer said. "Now, we can't purge for not voting."

Scheer and other election officials must now send a letter to people they think no longer live in the county. It's a much more complicated process, and it has affected the number of names on voter registration rolls. So as the voter pool grows, looking at percentages to compare turnout from election to election is not an accurate measure.

"We used to see 80 to 85 percent turnout in November presidential elections," Scheer said. "You don't see that anymore. We now see 65 percent to 70 percent."

Regardless of Tuesday's turnout, Scheer is prepared.

"I always order and print ballots enough for a big turnout because I don't know what is going to happen," she said.

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