Why even uneventful primaries are better than raucous caucuses

The substantive results aren’t the whole story; sometimes, voters have symbolic goals in mind when they vote. There is also the civic value of the procedure itself

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Columnists

March 22, 2024 - 3:30 PM

Kansas voters cast their early ballots Oct. 25, 2022, at the Shawnee County Election Office in Topeka. This week’s state-wide presidential primary was the first in more than 30 years. Turnout was disappointingly low, but predictable (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

When my wife and I went to vote last Tuesday, the polling station was nearly empty. One of the election workers told me it was the least busy election she’d ever seen, and as a political junkie, that did make me a little sad. Not sad enough to wish things had been entirely different, though.

Not that the results of the first state-wide presidential primary held in more than 30 years covered Kansas voters with glory. 

Overall, barely over 8% of all registered Democrats in the whole state participated, with the Republicans doing only slightly better, with not quite 11% turning out. Cleary, Kansas voters weren’t fired up by the choices available to them.

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