February 9, 2016

Scant voter turnout expected Tuesday

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board predicts a statewide turnout of less than 10 percent for Tuesday’s state and local spring primaries. There’s only one statewide primary on the ballot — the Supreme Court race in which voters will be narrowing a field of three candidates down to two for the April 2nd spring election. Incumbent Pat Roggensack is running against challengers Ed Fallone and Vince Megna.

Roggensack and Fallone are just now getting around to running TV ads. Megna has said he won’t run any. The top two vote-getters will move on to the finals in April.

Except for hot local contests, Tuesday will be the quietest Election Day in the Badger State since last February. Since then, there have been five emotionally-charged statewide elections which included the Walker recall vote, and races for president and U.S. Senate.

Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B., says “Over the last decade, turnout of eligible voters for the three spring primaries for Wisconsin Supreme Court races has been 6.8 percent in 2003, 6.7 percent in 2007 and 9.6 percent in 2011.” He says, “We expect this year’s turnout to be in that range.”

The 9.6 percent turnout in 2011 was triggered by massive pro-union demonstrations. Protesters were urging people to vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg in order to defeat conservative Justice David Prosser. The race attracted a ton more publicity, but 90 percent of voters still stayed home. Prosser won after a statewide recount.

Voters who want to know which races will be on their primary ballots February 19 should visit the My Vote Wisconsin website. In addition to providing sample ballots, the website will also help voters check their registration status and find their polling places.

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