Low voter turnout expected in Tuesday primaries

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(Host) State officials are expecting a low turnout for Tuesday’s primary elections. The election marks the first time that Vermont’s Progressive Party has been a part of the primary process.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Most party officials are predicting a low turnout today because there are very few contested statewide or legislative races.

On the statewide ballot, the Democrats have a contest for state treasurer between former State Auditor Ed Flanagan and former State Senator Jeb Spaulding. It’s a race that has generated a lot of controversy in the final weeks of the campaign. Spaulding has accused Flanagan of using deceptive campaign practices and excessive spending in their race. Flanagan denies all the charges.

The Republicans have a three-way race for the U.S. House. Rutland attorney Bill Meub, former air force pilot Greg Parke and Karen Kerin, who was the Party’s nominee in 2000, are all vying for the nomination.

The Progressive Party has a gubernatorial primary between Peter Diamonstone and Michael Badamo and a contest for its attorney general’s nomination between Cindy Hill and Boots Wardinski.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz thinks the turnout today will be lower than normal for a primary election:

(Markowitz) “I wouldn’t be surprised if overall in Vermont we had a turnout that was 15 % or lower. People need to remember that’s not a reflection of voter apathy. Rather, it’s the primaries are an exercise of the parties, the political parties, to choose candidates and it just shows that there’s not a lot of activity there right now.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz predicts that roughly 25,000 people will vote in the Republican Party primary and between 15,000-20,000 will participate in the Democratic primary. But she says it’s very difficult to estimate how many people will turnout for the Progressive Party’s first ever primary.

Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott also finds it very hard to predict the turnout in this primary:

(Abbott) “Are we talking about the people who are active in the party or are we talking about our entire mailing list? Are we talking about, you know, this idea that there might be other people who visit our Party. It’s just really impossible for me to even pick a ball park. I think but it will be very interesting to see.”

(Kinzel) Polls are allowed to open at different times in communities all across the state Tuesday, but the polls in every town must remain open until 7:00 p.m.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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