Don't Expect Much Company At The Polls Today

Aug 5, 2014

Historic low voter turnout possible in Tuesday's primary

Voters head to the polls Tuesday for Michigan's primary election. Some observers say there could be a historically low number of people casting ballots.

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"I think what we're seeing is we could have an election where we have about 13% to 15.1% of the people that are going to make a decision about what happens in the state on election day," said Matt Marsden with RevSix Data Systems, which is tracking absentee ballots.

In 1990, just over a million Michiganders showed up to the polls for the August primary. That was about 15 percent of all registered voters. Turnout for this primary could be even lower.

Marsden says it is not yet clear what is motivating people to sit out this election, as opposed to August primaries in the past.

"Some people will say it's because we have nobody at the top of the ticket in a primary against the governor or for the U.S. Senate race," he said.

"Some folks may claim that some of these primaries were so crowded that people looked at it and said, 'that's so many names I can't even make a decision.' And it could just be a symptom of apathy in general - people are just sort of fed up. Or it's summer and they're away enjoying their families and enjoying their summers."

Marsden says low voter turnout could be good news for some candidates, such as those who are supported by tea party groups.

"A lot of these primary cases, these are decided by very motivated voters that choose to go out and vote. So, some of your tea party candidates and some of those folks that are motivated by that ideology may find themselves faring better because we're not getting a lot more of the general electorate coming out and casting a ballot for their candidates," he said.