Realizing that another election is not on most people’s minds, Douglas County officials recently spent $27,000 on mailers to remind voters of their upcoming city and school board contests. Included in the mailers were applications for advance ballots of which more than 46,000 were returned. Advanced voting officially began Oct. 18.
Election officials were thrilled with the response, more than 10 times that of a typical election, and from many who were first-time voters.
“I’m thrilled we captured so many people who have never voted in local elections before,” said Jamie Shew, Douglas county clerk, in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World. “The knowledge an election is occurring does drive participation.”
This echoes the results of mail-in ballot elections, which typically result in much higher voter participation. The easier you can make the voting process, the better the results. Many voters say they prefer the mail-in process because it affords them time to study the ballots to their heart’s content and in the comfort of home. The practice can save money from having to staff and equip as many polling sites, although there are additional printing costs to consider.
In the three states that have all-mail elections — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — voters who relish the experience to vote in person may still do so at select sites. In 2018, California is set to go all-mail for the explicit purpose of greater turnout.
BEGINNING with the Nov. 7 election, advance ballots may be postmarked up through Election Day with their tabulation to continue up through Nov. 10.
Also new is the option for voters to drop off their advance ballots at any election-day polling site in the county. For Allen County, those sites include the LaHarpe Senior Center, Gas Community Center, Moran Senior/Community Center, Methodist Church in Humboldt and Bass Community Hall on North Buckeye Street in Iola. For more information, contact the county clerk’s office at 365-1407.
So sharpen your pencils, get set, and vote!
— Susan Lynn