Primary? What Primary? Voter Turnout Could Hit Record Low

Aug 26, 2014

It’s Primary election day in Vermont but not many voters are going to the polls and it’s possible that voter turnout today will be the lowest in state history.

There are reports from across the state this afternoon that most voters have no interest in today’s primary elections. How low is the interest? There were no voters at the Ward 3 voting station in Burlington at mid morning and only ten voters cast a ballot during the lunch hour in Montpelier.

Charlie Giannoni is Burlington’s Ward 3 Clerk.

"I have been associated with the polls here in Ward Three for many years and this is unusually low." - Burlington Ward Three Clerk Charlie Giannoni

“This is slower than I’ve experienced in the past,” said Giannoni. “I’ve been associated with the polls here in Ward Three for many years and this is unusually low.”

Montpelier City Clerk John Odum said he was expecting low turnout because very few voters asked for early ballots. He says the final turnout could be less than 10 percent.

“And from the early votes we had by the end of the day yesterday yeah we were looking at about a 10 percent turnout at best,” said Odum. “At the rate that we’re going right now without a surge we may not even make the 10 percent.”

There are two statewide primaries on the Republican ticket. Three candidates are seeking the Party’s gubernatorial nomination; Scott Milne, Emily Peyton and Steve Berry.

The GOP also has a three way race for its U.S. House nomination with; Mark Donka, Donald Nolte and Don Russell.

On the Democratic side, H. Brooke Paige is challenging both incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin and incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

In addition, there are several write-in campaigns. Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano is asking voters to write him in on the Republican ballot.

And Progressive Lt. Governor candidate Dean Corren is hoping that voters will write him on the Democratic ballot.

Voters had a variety of reasons for turning out today:

“There is one opportunity for a write-in and I thought it was important to participate in this and I haven’t missed as vote since the age of 21 and I’m about to be 70 so I just vote every opportunity that I can,” sayid one.

Another said, “I just think it’s important to vote and I knew it was going to be a low turnout and I didn’t have to work today. But I was very excited about the race for Lt. Governor – Dean Corren – I learned about him yesterday.”

A third voter turned out to cast a vote in the Republican primary: “I have known Milne for some time and so I voted for Scott, and I think if he gets toughened up a little bit he’ll run a good competitive race.”

The actual results of the write-in campaigns might not be known for several days because many town clerks say they don’t plan  to finish tabulating them until later in the week.