JoCo election commissioner predicts registrations will top 400,000 ahead of November, renews call for poll workers

Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker told the Overland Park Rotary Club the Election Office is looking for new poll workers.
Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker told the Overland Park Rotary Club the Election Office is looking for new poll workers.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said Monday that if current trends continue, the county will top 400,000 registered voters for the first time ever heading into the fall general election.

Nearly 389,000 voters were registered with the county ahead of the spring primaries, and the Election Office already has 12,000 voter registrations in some stage of approval in its pipeline.

“If we shut off the mail and had not further voter recruitment efforts go on, we would be at 400,000 by the time we get to election day,” Metsker said during a presentation to the Overland Park Rotary Club at the Overland Park Doubletree Monday. “We are expecting to hit 400,000 and we are expecting 80 percent of them to vote in the November election.”

If Metsker’s predictions pan out, that would mean a total of 320,000 Johnson Countians casting general election ballots this year, a 16 percent increase over the number of ballots cast in the 2012 presidential election. And the Election Office is working to ensure it can accommodate such a large wave of voters.

The Election Office is working to publicize its advance voting by mail option as well as the six advanced voting sites it will have open starting October 24 — among them the Blue Valley Recreation Hilltop Campus, which just became an advance voting location this year. Metsker said the Election Office is hoping to have fully 160,000 voters cast their ballots via advance voting methods in the general.

To accommodate the tens of thousands of voters who will head to the polls on election day, however, Metsker said the Election Office will need hundreds of new election workers to step up. When Metsker took over the job in February, the office had approximately 1,000 workers on its rolls who were ready and willing to assist in the 2016 cycle. The trouble was, the office estimated that it would need approximately 3,000 workers in its pool to properly staff its polling locations on election day.

Metsker noted that poll workers are paid a stipend for their work on election day. For more information on how to become an election worker, check out the Election Office’s website here.