County follows GOP ‘avalanche’

by Don Ratzlaff

& Patty Decker

The Free Press

The ?Republican avalanche? declared by national pundits after the Nov. 4 midterm election was little more than a normal day at the voting booth in Marion County.

Aside from the new GOP majority in the U.S. Senate, a greater GOP majority in the U.S. House and a party change in several governorships, Marion County voters declared support for Republi?can candidates in even greater percentages than voters statewide.

Kansas voters not only returned embattled incumbents to the U.S. Senate and governor?s mansion, but elected or re-elected Republi?cans to every other major state office appearing on this year?s ballot.

In Marion County, voters turned out in even greater number than they did in the 2010 midterm election, when 52 percent of voters came to the polls.

Tina Spencer, county clerk and election officer, reported that of the 7,760 registered voters in Marion County, 4,507 ballots were cast for an overall turnout last Tuesday of 58 percent.

In fact, with voters from the 31 townships and wards gathering at only eight polling places, voters at Marion and Hillsboro actually encountered significant lines. Waits of 30 to 40 minutes were common, with some lasting as long as an hour or more.

While both polling locations closed the doors at 7 p.m., officials said it was another hour before everyone inside completed their ballot.

In Hillsboro, 1,090 ballots were cast over the 12-hour period, for an average of 91 voters per hour. Marion poll workers processed 944 voters, or an average of 79 per hour.

Statewide vs. local

In the two highest-profile races in Kansas, incumbent Republican Pat Roberts defeated independent candidate Greg Orman by 53 percent to 42 percent, while county voters supported Roberts, 64 percent to 31 percent.

In the governor?s race, Sam Brownback won re-election with 46 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Paul Davis with 45 percent. In Marion County, Brownback won 58 percent to 45 percent.

Beyond those high-profile races, the most intriguing race may have been the local one for the 1st District county commission seat between attorney Lori Lalouette-Crawford and businessman Craig Dodd, both of Hillsboro.

At the end of a long election night watch at the courthouse, Dodd led Lalouette-Crawford by a mere two votes, 670-668. But with 17 provisional ballots for Commission District 1 and five ballots that could not be read by the machine, Spencer declared the official result to be ?too close to call.?

The outcome was to be determined at the Nov. 10 county commission meeting, where commissioners will conduct the required election canvass, and render a judgment regarding each provisional and uncounted ballot.

Because the post office is closed on Veterans Day (Tuesday), requiring a Sunday night press run, results of that commissioners? race will be posted as ?Breaking News? at hillsborofree?press.com as soon as it becomes available.

Two ballot measures

Two measures of note appeared on local ballots. Voters within Unified District 410, which includes Hillsboro, Durham and Lehigh, approved a proposal from the board of education that would change the way board members are selected.

Rather than choosing representatives from designated geographic areas within the district, plus a few ?at-large? representatives, all representatives serving on the board will be chosen as at-large members.

The measure passed by a majority of 64 percent, 801-447.

Superintendent Steve Noble said the proposal was put forward because for several years it has been difficult to find willing candi?dates within each geographic area.

The other measure was a state constitutional amendment that would allow charitable organizations to conduct raffles as a fund?raising tool. Previously, raffles were considered to be a form of gambling and had been outlawed.

The amendment to allow raffles passed by a 3-1 majority statewide, including a 71 percent to 29 percent margin in Marion County..

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