Thursday, July 2, 2009

Some Thoughts about likely turnout in the 19th Senate Special Election.For now I am saying 15+% to low 20's% turnout,but it's still early to predict

The last post noted that the range for turnout in recent special elections has been from 5% in the 5th New Castle County Council District race in Feb 2009 to 29.1 % in the 7th State Rep seat race in April 2007.

The only two contests that received less than a 18% turnout were the 5th County Council race in New Castle County and the 1-20-2007 5th District Levy Court contest in Kent County.This would make me wonder if there is just less interest in county races than State legislative races.

This is likely due to the Delaware Code mandated limits on the issues county government addresses ( primarily public safety, land use, libraries) as opposed to the wider variety of issues the State government is able to address ( including health care, infrastructure, the court system, the correctional system and enough other items to make this year's State budget bill- HB 290- 242 pages).

The other reality of county government is that some of it's functions only take place in unincorporated areas.If you live in the City of Wilmington or Newark, municipal government may address some of these issues and you might be less motivated to vote in the county council race.
Some of the functions are continuous functions that become part of everyday community life and people may forget about them until they are directly impacted (for example, library or park hours are reduced). Otherwise, they may well be below the average voter's radar.

For these reasons I think it is possible the 19th State Senate race will have turnout closer to the other state legislative special elections than to either of these county government special elections.
It is still early, but as of now I would assume high teens to low 20s is the likely percentage turnout.
The State Fair will take some folks away from the district as has been pointed out in local media. I think another factor that I have not seen mentioned is that the election will be during a summer period when many people who can travel do travel, so some voters may be away.The vacationers, the infirmed and frail elderly would be ideal candidates for absentee voting, but it is questionable whether the condensed time frame of a special election will allow for the needed outreach for locating and contacting likely potential absentee voters.

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