It's Election Day, But Only A Third Of Voters Are Expected To Turn Out

Apr 2, 2019

The 2018 fall elections set records for voter turnout in Wisconsin. However, Tuesday's election isn't expected to have quite the level of voter turnout. Actually, the predictions are significantly less.

Neil Albrecht, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, estimates the April 2 voter turnout to be 25 percent. That means 60,000-70,000 voters citywide compared to the 216,000 this past November.

But that's actually a good turnout for a spring election, Albrecht says. I doubled checked this with the county to see if maybe the city of Milwaukee is an outlier. It's not. 

Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson says, "We do expect this spring election turnout to be somewhere in the ballpark of 29 percent turnout, which is higher than normal. Last spring election was 5 or 6 points below that."

Even though spring elections bring less than a third of eligible voters to the polls, election officials are optimistic that the numbers will be stronger for this election. Albrecht says the higher turnout is being driven by the Wisconsin Supreme Court race and local school board races.

But despite the statewide race and the multiple local school board races, spring elections just aren't on voters' radar.

"We wish everyone would exercise their right to vote in every election. And we certainly do as much as we can to get the word out, but a lot of voters — in fact a majority of voters, unfortunately, only vote once every two years or every four years," says Albrecht. 

He also believes that the nonpartisan nature of spring elections is a contributing factor to the low voter turnout. 

"I think sometimes that people are a little discouraged that the candidates are nonpartisan. That means none of the candidates identify with a political party. That means voters have to do a little bit more homework before turning out at their polling places," says Albrecht. 

You can see what your ballot will look like online before you go to the polls. Polls are open until 8 p.m. Information on where to vote or what you need to bring to the polls can be found here.