Despite some hotly contested races in Missouri and Kansas, early voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary appears to indicate that voters are saying, “Meh.”
Election boards on both sides of the state line say voter turnout has been typical of or slightly below average of a primary election during a presidential election year.
“It sounds like we are kind of slow from what we are hearing,” said Chris Hershey, a director with the Platte County Board of Elections. “We are probably slightly below average. When we contacted the poll workers, they said it’s been pretty quiet.”
The same appeared true for Clay County. An election official said turnout appears to be normal.
“We have not heard one way or the other,” said Patty Evans, a director with the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners. “The phones are not ringing off the hook, so that at least indicates things are running smoothly.”
Bob Nichols Jr., a director for the Jackson County Election Board, estimated turnout to be around 20 to 25 percent. It’s been his experience that turnout for primaries typically is 22 to 27 percent.
“So far, it’s not been heavy,” Nichols said. “It’s been light. We have not been getting a lot of calls from voters on where to go for the polls. … It’s not going as hard and heavy as I would like it to.”
Johnson County election officials said there were some minor technical issues with its new electronic poll book earlier in the day. Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said the glitches were quickly solvable.
The number of advanced voters, however, was pretty much consistent with what the county saw in 2008 and 2012.
“It was pretty light,” he said, “typical of an August primary in Johnson County.”
One voter on Twitter was hoping for a strong turnout.
Another voter on Twitter said that polls in Kansas were busy.
The primaries were seen as being significant in part because the balance of political power in Kansas could begin to shift on Tuesday.
Many conservative incumbents, including some Johnson County Republicans, are facing challenges from moderate opponents. Education spending, Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts and the state’s financial decline have been cited repeatedly by primary candidates as major campaign issues. All 165 seats in the Kansas Legislature are on the ballot this year.
In Missouri, a four-way race for governor on the Republican side highlights a ballot topped by elections for statewide office. The GOP race for attorney general also has been hotly contested.
Kansas Republicans will be watching primary results to see whether moderates can win back a handful of seats in the Legislature.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said he expects 24 percent of registered voters to turn out for the primary. If that number holds, it would be a slight increase from the 23 percent of registered voters who participated in the 2012 primary. Turnout in the 2014 primary was around 20 percent.
Kobach said he expects turnout to be higher than in past primary elections because there are more contested primaries this year than in the last two election cycles.
Missouri election officials are predicting a turnout of a little less than one-third of the state’s registered voters, which would be the largest amount for an August primary since 2004.
Voters in Kansas can only vote in their party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters are required to fill out a registration form on election day to choose one of the parties. They then can cast a ballot in that party’s primary.
Missouri has an open primary system, which means voters can ask for either a Republican or Democratic ballot.
The polls in Kansas are open until 7 p.m. Kansas voters can find their polling place by clicking here.
Missouri polls will be open until 7 p.m. Missouri voters can click here to find their polling place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.