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No April Elections in Kansas Could Pose Significant Problems - KOAM TV 7

No April Elections in Kansas Could Pose Significant Problems

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COLUMBUS, KANSAS -

It's election day in Missouri and Oklahoma.  But you won't find any polls in Kansas, because Kansas has done away with April elections.

We look at the positives and negatives.

The glass may be half empty or full, depending on how you look at things.  Missouri has April elections.  But voter turnout?:

"We had hoped for ten percent," says Newton County Clerk Kay Baum.  "I really don't know that it's going to be."

Kansas legislators have found a solution to their own state's low voter turnout for April elections.

"Moving the April of odd year elections to November," says Cherokee County Clerk Rodney Edmondson.

No more April elections will save Cherokee County money; or at least, in the grand scheme of things, make other elections a bit easier to fund.

"We spent close to 16-thousand dollars for the previous April election.  Most of those costs now will be absorbed into the normal November ballot," says Edmondson.

So some people are saying Kansas is doing a better job with taxpayer money by no longer paying for April elections that have 10 percent voter turnout.

"Seeing the cost of an election and then no voter turnout.  It is kind of disheartening," says Baum.

But here's something Kansas now has that Missouri doesn't:  A bunch of new issues that could turn into problems, according to the Cherokee County Clerk.  Nonpartisan public offices, like city officials, will be on the same ballots as partisan offices, like state and federal officials.

Edmondson says, "Is that going to create some confusion with some of the voters?  Are they going to think their ballot may be wrong because we left out the R's, the I's, and the D's off it?"

No April elections will carry over issues onto November ballots.  Ballot space may become critical.

"There's been a couple of elections, not too far back, that they used almost all of it," says Edmondson.  "Took everything they could.  If you start shrinking font size, now you have people who can't see, can't read it."

Buying new ballot counting machines that handle more than one-page votes costs money that's not available to the Cherokee County Clerk's Office.  So the end result here is that there's potential for this whole no April elections deal to turn into a headache.

"It snowballs, and then that snowball grows fast," says Edmondson.

Newton County is spending close to $11,000 on this month's election.  The terms of elected officials in Kansas are being extended to compensate for no more April elections.

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