Another local and school board election has passed, and with it, area counties experienced another low voter turnout.

While Neosho County had the highest voter turnout in the area at just more than 25 percent, the number of Neosho County registered voters who went to the polls in Tuesday’s election was less than half the 60 percent turnout for the November general election.

Turnout was even lower in neighboring counties.

In Allen County, turnout was 22.4 percent, while it was 19.3 percent in Crawford County, 18.8 percent in Labette County and 18.2 percent in Wilson County.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office doesn’t keep voter turnout records for local and school board elections, but the office received reports that only 9 percent of registered voters went to the polls in Wichita and Johnson County and 17 percent in Topeka.

Area election officials, meanwhile, can’t explain the discrepancy between turnout figures for state and federal elections and local and school board elections.

Some officials say new voters often register to vote just prior to a presidential election, but then don’t vote for at least another four years.

In addition, as Labette County Clerk Linda Schreppel said, new voter registration laws make it harder for election offices to remove inactive voters from registration lists.

As a result, more people remain on the voter registration rolls. So even if the number of voters casting ballots remains the same, the turnout percentage goes down.

Registering and voting have never been easier. Many counties have voter registration forms which can be downloaded from their Web sites, while early voting allows voters to cast their ballots prior to the election.

Perhaps the perception exists that federal elections are somehow more important than local elections. However, decisions made by city commissions and councils, county commissions and school boards directly affect our pocketbook and daily routines.

And while it is possible to directly communicate with our federal representatives, most local government officials welcome phone calls or personal visits, even if they might be at odd hours.

And as the old saying goes, voting gives you the right to complain.

— Harold Campbell

Tribune Reporter

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