Voter turnout in Vilas and Oneida counties in Tuesday’s primary overall was low and in many cases, that wasn’t a surprise.
Many chalk it up to there being only one item on the ballot in many places, that being the primary for State Supreme Court justice.
In Oneida County, where there are 26,322 registered voters, there were 8,414, or roughly 32 percent, who showed up to vote.
Of those, 4,019 Oneida County residents voted for Pat Roggensack, 1,975 for Ed Fallone and 943 voted for Vince Megna.
There were 63 write-in votes.
Oneida County Clerk Mary Bartelt had predicted between 25 and 30 percent.
“I was a little low,” she said. “That’s pretty good for this primary, I can guarantee you that.”
Bartelt said there were a total of 18,156 votes cast in Oneida County, but that’s because some of the races, such as the Three Lakes school board primary, that had more than one choice for voters.
“A lot of times we’ll go back to our previous years and check the percentage and I just felt there would be more coming out because of our referendums,” she said. “In the spring, I think we’ll see a lot more, probably 40 percent.”
In Vilas County, there were 19,058 registered voters at the time of the primary, with a total of 3,392, or 18 percent, actually voting.
In the Supreme court race, 1,870 voters in Vilas County voted for Roggensack, 641 for Fallone and 317 for Megna.
County clerk David Alleman said he thought that the 9 percent turnout in Lac du Flambeau, the only town in the county that had a primary at the town board level in addition to the Supreme Court primary candidates on the ballot, was a little surprising.
“Then again, it was a primary,” he said. “Primaries just a lot of times don’t draw the interest.”
Alleman said the turnout for Vilas County towns where there was a school referendum on the ballot – Eagle River, St. Germain, Washington, Plum Lake, Phelps, Lincoln, Land O’ Lakes, Conover and Cumberland – was pretty typical.
“It was a pretty routine and mild election, compared to the presidential election or the governor’s recall, all those issues we went through last year,” he said. “This was pretty much a cake walk.”
Alleman thought maybe the weather had something to do with the lower numbers as well.
“It was not a good weather day,” he said. “Blowing, cold. The weather definitely keeps people in.”
He said larger numbers of voters were expected.
“We definitely provided more ballots than were used, especially the localities that had school referendum,” he said. “Even though the referendum did draw a lot of interest, I think the weather kept those numbers down a bit.”
Brian Jopek may be reached at email@example.com.