In early 2014, experts told the Kansas City Charter Review Commission that the city’s traditional February primary and March general elections were held in frigid conditions that prevented many people from voting.
The panel endorsed moving the primary to April and the general to June. Voters later passed a charter change to do that.
So how many Kansas City voters showed up on Tuesday, when the weather was downright balmy?
Not nearly enough.
Put part of the blame at the top of the ticket, where the mayor’s race was hard-fought in 2011 and somnolent in 2015.
Four years ago, a seven-person mayoral primary yielded 51,000 votes.
On Tuesday, Mayor Sly James trounced two weak candidates in a contest that attracted fewer than 33,000 voters — a depressing 35 percent drop.
Voters also didn’t show up in droves to mark ballots for other City Council races. Barely 4,500 votes were cast in a hotly contested 1st District in-district primary, not even as many were counted for an uncontested candidate in 2011.
Here are the numbers of voters in the February 2011 primary vs. Tuesday’s primary for the other in-district races:
▪ 2nd District: 6,500 vs. 3,700.
▪ 3rd District: 5,600 vs. 4,800.
▪ 4th District: 9,000 vs. 5,300.
▪ 5th District: 7,700 vs. 6,200.
▪ 6th District: 9,800 vs. 7,100.
In each case, turnout was lighter during Tuesday’s pleasant weather than in 2011, even in highly competitive races.
The June 23 general election likely will attract more votes, mostly because it will decide who actually holds office.
Still, the early results from a logical effort to boost Kansas City’s turnout were not promising.
Voters also did not flock to the polls in other parts of the area on Tuesday.
Johnson County’s turnout was only 9.87 percent, mimicking the 9.76 percent in April 2011.
The Kansas City Election Board reported 12.01 percent turnout, below the 16.34 percent of 2011.
Wyandotte County’s turnout was 15.28 percent vs. 15.29 percent in 2011.
The worst turnout Tuesday was 6.95 percent in Clay County, far below the 17.01 percent of four years ago.
Overall, only 11 percent of the 1.1 million voters in the five-county area cared enough to cast ballots Tuesday.
Now the other 89 percent will live with the decisions those involved citizens made.