County preps for record Election Day
Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt can cite figures indicating the countywide interest for the 2004 general election. For example, the election office registered 5,000 new voters in the two weeks before the Oct. 18 registration deadline.
But more than just the numbers, Schmidt said she sensed an excitement among those visiting the office in Olathe about the election that has already started for her and her staff. Her office has already issued 39,831 advanced ballots for the election, she said.
Those calling the election office are put on hold as its seven staffers each answer an average of 500 phone calls a day. In an appeal for additional funding, the Johnson County Commission last Thursday approved $575,000. Schmidt said mass mailings to first-time voters and new monitoring requirements also added to the workload.
"When we looked at the voter registration compared to 2000, we realized why we were swimming upstream," Schmidt told commissioners.
There are 34,000 more registered voters in the county than in 2000, Schmidt said. The office expects at least another 10,000 registration cards filled in the days before the deadline to make their way to the office in the coming day, and that number could be has high as 15,000.
Schmidt predicted 75 percent of those registered would vote in the election. That, too, would better the mark of four years ago, when turnout was placed at 69 percent.
The election office has taken steps to prepare. There will be 1,605 touch-screen voting machines used Nov. 2, nearly double these used in 2000.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, allowing voters a chance to cast ballots before going to work, Schmidt said. County residents can avoid lines altogether by taking advantage of advance voting either by walk-in voting or by mail, she said. (See graph on page 7A for options.)
And as De Soto voters learned in the April swimming pool bond referendum and the August primary, the election office has increased the number of polling places this year. Polling places in De Soto are:
- Precincts 1 and 7 (or Old Town De Soto) -- Starside Elementary School, 35400 W. 91st St.
- Precincts 2 and 6 (from Waverly Road to Lexington Ave.) -- De Soto Baptist Church, 8655 Church St.
- Precincts 3, 4 and 5 (De Soto east of Waverly Road) -- De Soto Community Center, 32903 West 84th St.
Voting registration numbers indicate Republicans out performed Democrats in Johnson County in registering new voters, which could play a role in the 3rd District congressional race between Democratic incumbent Rep. Dennis Moore and his GOP challenger Kris Kobach.
Election office figures show there are 19,000 more registered Republicans than in November 2000, compared to 7,000 more Democrats. Unaffiliated voters increased by 2,100. The Republican total grew by 11,000 since August, while the number of Democratic voters grew by 3,500.