Hotly contested Kansas races brought voters out early Tuesday and lifted turnout across the state to levels slightly above that of the 2010 midterm elections.
At some Johnson County polling places, dozens of voters waited in lines as long as 30 minutes before crowds began thinning around noon, said county election commissioner Brian Newby.
Congestion was greater because the county in recent years has consolidated and reduced its number of polling places from about 250 during the 2012 presidential election to 183 now.
By the time Kansas polls closed at 7 p.m., more than 190,000 Johnson Countians had cast ballots, representing 50 percent of registered voters. They included about 67,000 people participating in advance voting. Newby said he thought turnout could possibly reach as high as 53 percent of the county’s registered voters when all provisional ballots are tallied.
In 2010, Election Day turnout in the county and across the Sunflower State dipped below 50 percent of registered voters. Secretary of State Kris Kobach last week projected Tuesday’s turnout statewide to hit 50 percent.
Voter activity on the Kansas side stood in contrast to stillness at many polling places in Missouri, where Secretary of State Jason Kander last week projected a turnout of just under 40 percent, or some 1.6 million voters, some 300,000 fewer voters than in the 2010 midterms. Kander based his estimate on projections by county and local election officials statewide.
With 97 percent of Missouri precincts reporting, 1.2 million ballots were actually cast.
Newby in Johnson County said about 20 voters there had expressed concerns about possible malfunctions in the touch screens they used to select candidates.
While Emily Berkley did her voting in Spring Hill, she noticed that the final review screen showing all of her picks didn’t include her vote in the Kansas secretary of state race, Berkley told The Star. She said she touched back to the original page, which confirmed she had cast a vote in that contest for Democrat Jean Schodorf.
“But it still wasn’t showing up on the review screen,” she said. Berkley returned once more to the original page, removed her vote for Schodorf and let the machine sit for several seconds. She re-voted for the Democrat and it was accurately displayed on the review page.
Election commissioner Newby said some of the complaints about the touch screens may have been due to voters inadvertently pressing their fingers to the wrong boxes, which appear close together on the screen.
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