Low turnout for primary elections

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August 14, 2012 by Sarah M

// By Maggie Kane //

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The scene at Pershing Park Neighborhood Center shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Precinct volunteers reported low turnout at the primary election polls Tuesday morning and early afternoon.

“Our turnout has been very low,” said Ken Reed, chair of the 1st Precinct in the 11th Ward. “It’s probably lower than what I would have guessed.”

Reed could not tell if voting rates had actually dropped or if he should attribute low attendance to precinct border changes that came into effect at the start of the year. Redistricting cut his precinct down to about one-third of its former size, Reed said.

In Fulton, 79 voters had shown up at Pershing Neighborhood Center before 1 p.m. Janice Noerenberg, chair judge of the 13th Ward’s 4th Precinct, said the precinct had just over 2,600 registered voters.

Noerenberg said many people who show up on primary day are regular voters. They feel it is their duty to vote. Others come to vote in specific races.

“We just thought ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re supposed to vote,’” said Joan Boyce, as she and husband Bob Boyce approached the building.

The couple votes in every primary election, Joan Boyce said.

Noerenberg said certain races on today’s ballot, like School Board and judicial positions, draw fewer people because voters tend to be less familiar with them.

Timothy Oleksiak cast his vote at Whittier Park. Oleksiak said he usually votes in the primaries, but this year he was particularly motivated to show up because of his interest in the proposed constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot in the general election.

One amendment would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and the other would require voters to present identification before receiving a ballot.

“They’re big,” Oleksiak said, “Mainly because it’s hard to change those amendments once they’re in.”

While the amendments do not appear on primary ballots, Oleksiak said he researched candidates’ opinions on the amendments and voted for ones who shared his own thoughts.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. To find your polling place, go to minneapolismn.gov/elections.

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