Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Precincts see low voter turnout

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Voting_JS[/media-credit]While warmer temperatures made students more visible on campus, poll workers saw a low voter turnout in student-congested districts Tuesday.

Chief inspectors at various wards believe the lower turnout in the primary election was due to a lack of a contested aldermanic race.

"With the primary, there's no aldermanic primary race," said Ward 46 Chief Election Inspector Ann Waidelich, who oversaw the polls at Memorial Library. "For the governor's race in November, we registered 1,000 students that day to vote in that election. … It was just a more interesting, seemingly more important race."


By 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Memorial Library polling place had only accommodated 48 total voters, 44 of whom were already registered, according to Waidelich.

Waidelich also said she hoped to see at least 20 more voters by the time the polls closed at 8 p.m.

"I had hoped that we might reach 100 — we're going to be lucky to get to 75," she said.

While Ward 44 Chief Election Inspector Carol Weidel saw a higher turnout at the polling place on Dayton Street than at Memorial Library, she said the number was still low.

Ward 44 has nearly 4,000 registered voters, but the turnout at 7 p.m. was 200 voters, Weidel said.

"It's very low, but this is a spring primary," she added. "For spring primaries, we don't usually have a big turnout unless there's a hotly contested aldermanic race."

Waidelich's ward is mostly comprised of students, which may have affected the number of people who found time to vote throughout the day, as Waidelich said voters at Memorial Library were generally adults.

But Weidel said Ward 44 saw a "50-50 split" between student and adult voters.

"It's a combination," Weidel said. "We have Smith Hall on Park Street — that's a lot of voters there — but we've had a lot of empty-nester adult voters, adults over 50 [years old] who are starting to move back in the downtown."

The polling places also faced slight difficulties throughout the day.

At Memorial Library, Waidelich had to redirect many voters from nearby Ward 40, because voters did not realize construction was finished at their official polling place.

"Probably two out of three people have been coming into the room and they've been from Ward 40," Waidelich said. "That's been discouraging to us, to think all these voters are coming and we have to send them away."

Technical difficulties prohibited some people from voting at the polling place on Dayton Street, as some hopeful voters that had voted at Ward 44 in previous elections were not registered for the primary.

"It happened to about six voters today," Weidel said. "There may have been a breakdown … but I'm not sure what happened."

University of Wisconsin sophomore Sol Grosskopf was one of the few students who did turn up at the polls.

Grosskopf, who voted at Memorial Union, said he was the only one in the polling place before, during and after he voted.

While the absence of lines was convenient for Grosskopf, he expressed disappointment in the low student voter turnout — he said only 10 people had shown up before he voted at 1 p.m.

"Students always complain about their voices not being heard, and you wonder why," he said. "It's important, with the mayor's office being a nonpartisan office. The primary will determine the mayor's race."

While voter turnout for the primary elections was not as high as people hoped, both Weidel and Waidelich stressed the importance of student voting for the bigger election in April.

Despite the election date falling during spring break, Waidelich encouraged students to send in their absentee ballots if they will be out of town.

"The April election will be important for the students, because that's when they get to vote on their alderman, and that's their real local representative," Waidelich said. "Come in the spring. I'll excuse you for the primary, but make an effort to come in the spring."

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