Experts Say Projected Voter Turnout Spells Trouble

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

You could say people such as Wichita's Steve Cisneros are a rarity these days.

"Most definitely, I'm going to vote Tuesday," Cisneros said.

Less than one in every five Kansans are expected to hit the polls for Tuesday's primary election, which Cisneros says is mind-boggling.

"It's the only way that your voice is heard and that you continue to participate in your civic responsibility," Cisneros said.

But to experts such as Wichita State University political science professor Ken Ciboski, it's all too familiar.

"I kind of have the feeling that a lot of people think it just doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference," Ciboski said.

Ciboski says the kind of apathy seen in these local elections can change people's lives more than they can imagine.

"I believe there are consequences for democracy, I really do," Ciboski said.

He says because so few people vote, it puts all the power in the hands of the few with special interests that do.

"The activists who are organized, who know what they want and go about it systematically, are the ones who are going to prevail," Ciboski said.

He says that could be what happens in several hotly contested state senate races where challengers are hoping to prevail over incumbents.

Turnout numbers in those districts might see a bump from people who are especially invested. But in the end, Ciboski said here's the bottom line Tuesday as most voters see it:

"It's a primary election and we don't have anything at the top of the ticket," Ciboski said.

With that disinterest, Cisneros says it will be business as usual.

"I think when you don't participate and you don't vote, you get even more of the same," Cisneros said.

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