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I had the pleasure of attending the Linn County Republican Women’s annual chili dinner Monday night, and with that I got to taste approximately 10 different kinds of chili. It is amazing that one soup called chili can have so many different variations in taste and degree of hotness, from burning your taste buds off to mild and sweet.

Unbeknownst to me, the chili feed was also a chili contest with our own County Attorney James Brun coming in with the first-place recipe – good job to all of the cooks. They were all awesome!

County Clerk David Lamb was the guest speaker and gave some interesting statistics to the crowd in Parker. He spoke of the number of registered voters in Linn County and what party affiliation they hold.

In Linn County in 2016, there were 1,206 registered Democrats, 55 registered Libertarians, 3,829 registered Republicans and 1,723 unaffiliated voters totaling 6,813 registered voters.

Those numbers were compared to 2018 where now we have 1,179 registered Democrats, 68 Libertarians, 3,895 Republicans and 1,826 unaffiliated voters totaling 6,968 – or 155 more voters in the county.

Looking at the numbers, I wondered if the population of the county increased, explaining the change in number of voters. But in 2010 there were 9,656 people in Linn County, and in 2018 there were 9,750, so fewer than 100 new people in the county.

Statewide, numbers seemed to follow the same pattern. In 2016 there were 450,265 registered Democrats in Kansas, 15,556 Libertarians, 807,912 Republicans and 544,194 unaffiliated voters – totaling 1,817,927 registered voters of 2,911,263 people in the state.

In 2018 there were 463,114 registered Democrats, 17,618 Libertarians, 817,713 Republicans and 543,403 unaffiliated voters in the state. The total population counted at 2,911,505 – 242 more people, much less than 1 percent change in population numbers.

What’s interesting about these numbers, further, is that leaves 1,069,415 people that don’t vote – I’m assuming these people are residents under the age of 18 or non-residents of the state.

Interestingly apparent is the number of people who did not register in either major party in the state and remain unaffiliated voters. explains unaffiliated further in the contentious 2018 primary between then Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer. “Nearly 31 percent of registered voters in Kansas have no party preference, but they can vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries if they declare allegiance to one of the parties before casting their ballot.

“But these unaffiliated voters and what constitutes ‘declaring allegiance’ are at the center of an increasingly contentious battle as 334 votes separate Secretary of State Kris Kobach from Gov. Jeff Colyer out of more than 314,000 ballots cast in the state’s Aug. 7 Republican primary for governor.

“By law, they can declare a party preference by signing a statement and can cast a regular ballot.

“‘If an unaffiliated voter does not complete a party affiliation document, that voter is not entitled to vote at a party primary election,’ Rucker said Sunday in a statement.

“But the governor’s office has said provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters in a primary should be considered evidence of voter intent and must be counted.”

The 2020 general election in Kansas looks like the swing could come from the unaffiliated voters. Those who are registered in a particular party generally vote party, but there is the odd vote that occurs for another party. Those who are not tied to a party will sway in the wind until their feather lands on the candidate that they think most lines up with their beliefs – a scary prospect for any candidate – no wonder Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are giving away the ship. Maybe the prospect of free, free, free will entice some of those unaffiliated in their direction.

Jackie Taylor

Linn County News


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