The big day is today — a city and school election to choose board of education and city commission members. In addition, voters in Newton will be asked to decide on Sunday alcohol sales by retail stores.
At times it is those extra questions on the ballot that fuels turnout — such was the case two years ago when ballots contained both a school bond issue and a referendum of the sale of a public park.
"That drove the turnout," said Rick Piepho, Harvey County Clerk and Election Officer.
That election saw more than 30 percent voter turnout — what Piepho said is very strong for a local election.
For 2019, he is prognosticating somewhere around 27 percent — strong, but not as strong as the most recent city/school election. His prediction is based, in part, on the number of advance ballots to come in through the mail and an advanced polling station in the basement of the Harvey County Courthouse.
"It is better than four years ago, but not as good as two years ago," Piepho said. "It would lead me to believe that overall we will be less than two years ago but more than four years ago."
The 2017 city/school election was also the first time those elections occurred in the fall. Previously, odd-year elections occurred in April. The state legislature made the change to try and drive higher voter turnout.
"That could have changed the turnout numbers," Piepho said. "Four years ago we were only and 22 or 23 percent, not even that high. Two years ago we were over 30 percent."
The Newton City Commission race features seven candidates for three seats — two four-year terms and one two-year term. The North Newton council race features four candidates for three terms, and an uncontested mayoral race. The Newton USD 373 Board of Education Race features eight candidates for four seats, each a four-year term.
City of Newton voters will be asked a yes/no question regarding the sale of alcohol on Sunday. The ballot question reads: "Within the City of Newton shall sale at retail of cereal malt beverage in the original package be allowed on any Sunday, except Easter, between the hours of 12 noon and 8 p.m. and shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor in the original package be allowed on any Sunday, except Easter, between the hours of 12 noon and 8 p.m. and Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day?"
The ballot also contains a constitutional amendment question for the state of Kansas.
The purpose of the amendment is to eliminate the adjustment of census taken by the United States Census Bureau regarding nonresident military personnel and nonresident students when reapportioning the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives. A vote for the proposition would eliminate the adjustment of census taken by the United States Census Bureau regarding nonresident military personnel and nonresident students when reapportioning the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives.