Lowest primary turnout in decades
Even Republican Secretary of State Roger Williams, who predicted a paltry 13 percent turnout, was caught being overly optimistic.Primary turnout was low, but it is probably not because people chose to stay home and sign petitions.
"We don't know why the turnout was low, and certainly this office is disappointed," spokesman Scott Haywood said.
He said he should make it clear that TV commercials running statewide and starring Mr. Williams were not part of a failed get-out-the-vote effort. They were designed to inform voters about where to vote and that they would be casting ballots on new electronic equipment – part of a $5 million voter education drive.
"We're pretty pleased with the results. Things went really well with the new equipment," he said.
Mr. Haywood said that if any one factor was significant, it was that Democrats failed to show up. "I couldn't find a Democratic primary that was lower," he said.
The Democratic primary drew 4 percent of registered voters, the GOP primary 5 percent.
The Dems had a big race in 2002 -- Sanchez vs. Morales. Sanchez spents lots of money turning people out. This year, the primary wasn't nearly as high-profile, and Democratic turnout went from a million to 600K. Meanwhile, just like four years ago, there weren't any big races for the GOP, and turnout was only up a modest amount (less than 10%).
So unless you think lots more people were going to come to the polls this year, it's probably not because of Strayhorn or Friedman or their petitions. Individual voter behavior is not easily malleable in the aggregate.
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