Low Turnout Predicted for Tuesday's Primary Election

Low Turnout Predicted for Tuesday's Primary Election

Vermont's primary elections are Tuesday, and the Secretary of State is predicting a low-turnout year.
Vermont's primary elections are Tuesday, and the Secretary of State is predicting a low-turnout year.

“While I am hesitant to predict any numbers, we are anticipating a low turnout given that it is a non-presidential year, there are no US Senate seats on the ballot, and there are fewer than usual contested races," Secretary Condos said in an email.

"This year's race race really has no fireworks," said Garrison Nelson, a political science professor at UVM. "Voters need incentives to turn out, and there's no greater incentive than a lively race between candidates who are viable and have a shot at winning."

The most contested race in Tuesday's primary is the Republican race for Governor. Three people are on the ballot: Scott Milne, Steve Berry and Emily Peyton. Dan Feliciano, a Libertarian, has mounted a write-in campaign for the GOP race.

Professor Nelson doesn't think any of those candidates can beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.

"The prospects of knocking off Shumlin are increasingly more difficult," Nelson said.

Vermont's primary used to be held in September, and is now the 4th Tuesday in August. In 2016 it will move up to the 2nd Tuesday in August.

"You have all those county fairs that take place around Labor Day...well that's gone," said Nelson, referring to the past practice of campaigning face-to-face at fairs before the primary. "Consequently, that makes it much more difficult for candidates to meet with the voters in an informal setting."

At the last midterm primary in 2010, 24% of registered voters came out to the polls, compared to 54% in the November general election. Professor Nelson says low turn out at this primary would be bad news for the declining Vermont Republican Party.

"This will discourage candidates from running under the Republican party for a few years," Nelson said.

Secretary Condos says with lower turnout, each vote is even more important in the final tally. Voters we talked with Monday agreed.

"It's still your civic duty to limit the field and hopefully get the best of the best," said Donna Gallas.

"I just think it's important that everyone should at least go out, make your vote. Let you voice be heard," said John Giminiani.
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