Local election turnout up significantly in most populous Kansas counties, says MainStream Coalition in analysis


An analysis by the Johnson County-based MainStream Coalition suggests Kansas voters were significantly more engaged in this local election cycle than they had been in years past.

The group, which has a stated goal of advocating for good governance and quality public education, looked at turnout rates in the state’s five most populous counties — Johnson, Wyandotte, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Douglas — compared to the last local election, which was held in spring 2015. Four of the five saw notable jumps in voter participation rates. Only Sedgwick, which encompasses Wichita, saw a decrease.

Here’s how the comparison looked:

2015 turnout 2017 turnout Change
Douglas 17% 22% +5%
Johnson 10% 17% +7%
Sedgwick 16% 8% -8%
Shawnee 13% 19% +6%
Wyandotte 15% 24% +9%

In Johnson County, the election office tallied 30,320 more votes for the 2017 local election than it did in 2015. Still, more than four in five registered Johnson County voters did not cast a ballot last week.

The analysis also notes that the number of registered voters in the most populous counties has increased since 2015 as well. Wyandotte and Johnson counties each had 9 percent more registered voters in the 2017 local election cycle than in the 2015 cycle.

MainStream also celebrated the fact that 37 of the 46 candidates its political action committee had recommended for this election cycle in Johnson County will take office.

“In the race for Johnson County Community College Trustee, all four of our recommended candidates won their races, with the next finisher behind by 6,000 votes! Several candidates for city offices won over candidates backed by extremists in Kansas politics, including Justin Adrian and Lindsey Constance in Shawnee, whose opponents had the backing of Kansas State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, and the race for Overland Park Mayor, where ultra-conservative Charlotte O’Hara lost by almost 30%.”

However, the group saw only five of the 12 candidates its PAC recommended in Wyandotte County win their races.

You can see the full analysis of the turnout data here.