Mail ballots improve turnout in Ford County

DODGE CITY, Kansas– Ford County voters approved an $85 million school bond Thursday to help fund necessary improvements and expansions in Dodge City schools.  The vote was unique, because it’s the first time the county has ever held a special election by mail.

“Not only was it a win, but it was a big win and I think that speaks volumes about what our community thinks about the school system and also the hopes they have for the future,” said Superintendent Alan Cunningham.

The bond passed with a 67% majority.  Another impressive number, 38% of Ford County voters cast their ballots.  That is much more than they can normally expect during a special election.

“It would only be you know maybe 10 to 12%, maybe 20 at the most,” said County Clerk and Election Officer Sharon Seibel.

USD 443 chose to try voting by mail in hopes that it would improve turnout.

“The fact that more and more people were able to express their opinion using a mail in ballot I think lends a lot of validity to it,” Cunningham said.

Of course it would depend on the nature of the election and the issue, but because this special election went so well there could likely be more mail in voting in Ford County’s future.

“I think it’s something that everybody ought to consider, I really do,” said Cunningham.

Seibel said the election went well, but voter apathy is still apparent.

“I don’t think we could make it any easier for a person to vote.  It comes with postage prepaid, all they have to do is mark their selection and get it back to us,” she said. “[38%] is good, but I always want more.”

The school board will meet next week to discuss the project now that the bond has been approved.  They expect to have the smaller construction finished by this time next year, with bigger projects taking two to three years.

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