Voter turnout tough to predict

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Based on the voter registration numbers for this year, the June 1 primary election might be looking at a turnout much like usual.

Out of the 28 precincts in Pike County, there are a total of 16,758 people who are active voters for this year’s primary election, according to the Board of Registrars office.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates a total population of 30,461 people within Pike County, meaning that out of the total population, a little more than half are active registered voters.

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This number isn’t too surprising to Melissa Ingram, chairman of the Pike County Board of Registrars, but she is shocked at the number of different places people can vote.

“Hopefully, people will come out and will be really interested in this election,” Ingram said.

She said because there is a gubernatorial race this year, she expects people will come to the polls.

The largest precinct is the Troy Adams Armory, equaling a total of 2,586 people.

This is also the precinct that receives many student voters from Troy University.

The 2008 general election turned out a record number of young or first-time voters. Ingram said the county has taken steps to keep those groups at the polls.

According to Ingram, work has been done with all the high schools in Pike County, making sure teachers went over voting guides with seniors and prepared them for the voting process.

“We’ve done a big thing this year with all the high school students,” Ingram said. “We’ve registered all the seniors in the county that wanted to vote.”

We’re just trying to put some things in place to make the kids aware of the choices they have because they do make a difference,” she added.

“But the problem is getting people out to vote.”

The voter registration date has passed, meaning that those who haven’t registered to vote will not be able to vote in the primary election this year.

Though the voter registration date has passed, registered voters can still vote absentee, but today is the last day absentee voting will be accepted.

Audrey Milton is the absentee election manager and is in charge of the absentee voting within the county.

According to Milton, there have been 130 absentee as of Wednesday afternoon for the primary election this year.

In 2008 primary election there were 190 absentee voters, a decrease of about 32 percent.

Milton said that the number of absentee voters is usually higher in the general election.

“I think a lot of people think that’s the big election, and they think that’s more important and just don’t vote in the primary,” Milton said. “They wait until the general election and just vote that one time.”

The previous general election in 2008 had more than 1,200 absentee voters.

Another factor was there was a presidential election in 2008, Milton said.

Probate Judge Wes Allen said while the number of registered voters is about the same, he encourages them all to come out to the polls.

“You always want as many people to vote that can vote,” Allen said. “Voting is one of the bedrocks of our republic. It’s not something that should be taken lightly.”

Allen went on to say that the weather can play a part in voting turnout, and it remains to be seen whether Memorial Day on Monday will affect the voter turnout on Tuesday.