City clerk expects higher voter turnout for spring primary election than recent years

City clerk expects higher voter turnout for spring primary election than recent years

It’s no secret the spring primary election doesn’t see the most people running to the polls, but with an intense presidential election in November, and how vocal people have become about politics, be it on social media or holding rallies, Madison residents think that could play a role in this year’s turnout.

“I would think there would be a bigger turnout just because of the climate that’s been in the nation,” Alex Felland said.

Felland and some other Madison residents agree the current political climate may be fuel to get people to the polls.

“I would sure hope so, especially how tense things can be right now,” Madison resident Justin Rhodes said.

But do local primary elections have the same draw? Several residents did not even know an election was taking place on Tuesday.

“I knew there was an election, but I didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Felland said.

Despite the lack of awareness, City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl’s office is predicting a 20 percent voter turnout, which is higher than in recent years.

“Typically in a primary like this, we’d see an 11 percent turnout,” Witzel-Behl said.

She says the high prediction is always an educated guess, but it comes, in part, from a record amount of in-person absentee ballots already filled out for Tuesday’s election. That number is nearly 2,900, compared to about 1,700, which was the record since 2008.

The city clerk’s office is hopeful even more people will turn out so their voice can be heard.

“Your vote is a form of power that you have, and if you chose not to use it, then you’re giving that power to somebody else,” Witzel-Behl said.

The polling places will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. Those who win the primary – including school superintendents, school board members and vying for mayor in Fitchburg, will then appear on the April ballot for the spring election. You can visit the city clerk’s website for more information and to find your polling place.