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Braintree preps wholeheartedly for primary election despite anticipated low turnout

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 29, 2012 04:00 PM

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Although the Braintree Town Hall is preparing for the state primary election with vigor, officials aren’t expecting the ballot boxes to be busy come Sept. 6

Of the 24,392 registered, eligible voters, Town Clerk Joseph Powers expects approximately 15 percent to vote.

Not only does history point in that direction, but there have been no spikes in voter registration or absentee ballots to suggest the election would trend otherwise.

Regardless of anticipated turnout, the clerk’s office has been prepping for the election as if everyone will attend.

“We prepare, we do 100 percent of our work --100 percent effort, and we prep for 100 percent turnout. In this case the ballots are purchased by the state, but we have enough for every single person to come out and vote,” Powers said. “That’s something I do for every election. You always have to be prepared for the most, which becomes disheartening when you get the least.”

On average, state primary elections that precede a presidential election draw an average of 17 percent of eligible voters, Powers said.

For state primaries in general, since 1990, typically 28 percent of registered voters show up at the polls.

As of Aug. 24, 207 people had requested absentee ballots, but even Powers doesn’t expect all of them to submit the ballots.

“The 207 you’ve seen total application, I think we’ll probably see between 100-150 come back,” Powers said. “Some of the reason is people were filling out absentee ballot applications in March and thinking about November. So when they checked off all elections, they would get March, September, November, but we won't see 100 percent return rate for September.”

According to Powers, there just aren’t enough contested races to draw the voters.

For the Democratic ballot, the only contested race is for Governor’s Council. On the Republican ballot, two men are fighting for a seat in the US House.

“When we hear from voters – they are keyed in to the presidential election, but on a state primary there is nothing to do with the presidency,” Powers said.

Although the state handles all the printing costs, the primary will still cost Braintree $8,000 to $10,000 for election officers and mailing costs for absentee ballots.

The presidential election will also cost the town $8,000 to $10,000, but voter turnout is expected to be much higher.

“A ballpark figure, we always expect 70 percent. That’s the assumption we start out with. We could see anywhere from 65-75 percent. It’s always a big draw in Braintree,” Powers said.

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