Voter turnout was lowest in 10 years

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2007

One way to look at voter participation in Tuesday's special school bond election is the net return on promotion costs: 5,244 ballots at $4 each.

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Turnout for the three school bond financing issues was the lowest for any election in the last decade. Slightly more than 21 percent of registered voters voted in person or by mail.

"It was the lowest turnout I've ever participated in," said Tom Perkins, a poll worker for 18 years.

Workers in seven precincts made similar comments.

"We make it easy for voters to participate if they want to," said Laurie Sica, Juneau city clerk.

Voters can cast a ballot by mail or in person. They can vote weeks in advance. They can vote from home, from overseas or from an old-fashioned polling booth.

Juneau even has a provision allowing votes to be cast by a representative should a citizen fall ill the day of the election.

Turnout is driven by interest, Sica said.

"If they are passionate about it, they come out."

Tuesday's turnout was 2 percent under the previous low, a June 2003 special election seeking a $12.6 million bond for the same school. Three past elections combined school bond issues with general elections that saw turnout above 36 percent.

Assistant Superintendent Charla Wright noted that special elections generally draw fewer voters.

The precinct with the highest turnout Tuesday was Lynn Canal, where 327 of 1,146 registered voters cast ballots.

The lowest turnout was in the Switzer Creek precinct; 73 ballots were cast of a possible 911, for an 8 percent showing.

Switzer Creek was the only precinct to vote down all three propositions.

The city spent $21,000 to inform people that the election was coming, Sica said.

By law, the city must inform voters of elections in newspaper ads and other public announcements.

Proponents of the bonds held informational sessions with the local civic organizations. The city sent information pamphlets to every address in town.

• Greg Skinner can be reached at 523-2258, or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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