TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansas is expected to see higher turnout for the 2022 Primary compared to previous election years.

A report from the Secretary of State’s Office, released Friday, predicts 36% of Kansas voters will vote in this year’s Primary election. The Secretary of State is also acknowledging the link between this year’s numbers and the “Value Them Both” amendment.

“When we say compelling issues, abortion is a compelling issue, and there’s strong opinions on both sides,” Schwab told Kansas Capitol Bureau in an interview Friday. “That’s always going to be an issue that some people go and vote for.”

Kansas will be the first state to vote on abortion rights after the fall of Roe v. Wade. The vote on the amendment is open to all Kansas voters, even those who are unaffiliated. A vote in favor of the amendment does not ban abortion, but, if the amendment passes, state lawmakers would have the power to pass new regulations on the procedure.

Some local election officials in the state capitol have tied the ballot question to higher turnout this year. Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said their office has seen record numbers for advance voting.

“In Shawnee County, we’ve already seen over 7,000 voters as of yesterday, 7:00 p.m,” Howell said. “We are more than double what we’ve seen in prior elections that were similar.”

The Secretary of State’s prediction for this year’s higher turnout compares to roughly 636,032, or 34.2%, in 2020. In 2018, roughly 487,598, or 27.1%, of registered voters participated in the primary
election.

The state has also seen an increase in in-person voting since the last Primary. According to the report, as of Friday, 128,600 advance in-person votes have been cast. Of those, 49,679 were by registered Democrats, 59,253 by registered Republicans, 643 by registered Libertarians, and 19,025 by registered unaffiliated voters.

For the 2020 primary election, 30,762 advance in-person ballots were cast, and 40,406 advance in-person ballots were cast in 2018. Schwab said other factors could also contribute to this year’s numbers, like statewide races that are capturing attention.

“Just traditionally, compelling candidates in races drive voters… We’ve had increased voter registration numbers, especially after the pandemic… especially a lot of 18-year-olds who typically wouldn’t care about registering to vote,” Schwab said. “We’re seeing a lot of dynamics over the last six years that really push people to register to vote and want to engage in the process.”

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, August 2. Commissioner Howell said turnout for that day can be hard to predict, but, if early voting is an indicator, the number may also be high.

“I think it remains to be seen Election Day, how much turnout, but I expect we’ll see a pretty significant turnout here,” Howell said.