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Study: No Specific Remedy for Low Voter Turnout in CT Primary

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Monday, July 7, 2014   

HARTFORD, Conn. - While candidates are busy trying to persuade Connecticut resident to choose them at the ballot box in just over a month, local voting rights advocates have been studying trends to try to boost participation at the polls.

According to Gloria Bent, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, they began their study thinking election turnout could be improved by switching to a different type of primary system.

"But we discovered that it doesn't seem to matter whether it's an open, top-two, or closed primary," Bent said. "They're all pretty comparable in the rates of voter turnout."

Bent added that over the last decade, turnout in some primary elections has fallen to as low as 14 percent. It usually hovers around 20 percent. The exception was the 2008 Presidential Primary, when turnout reached 51 percent.

Bent said that some experts suggest more voter education as the best remedy for low turnout.

In Connecticut, 42 percent of voters say they are unaffiliated. And that means they can't vote in the August primary unless they choose affiliation with either of the two major parties.

There's still time to make such a choice, according to Bent.

"Make the application with the registrar of voters by mail, a week before the primary, or in person a day before the primary," explained Bent. "If you're unaffiliated and it's really important to you to have a say in who the Republicans or the Democrats are running, it's not difficult to exercise that right."

Bent added that the League of Women Voters' study also shows political parties can make a difference by taking steps to promote greater participation by their members, by voting and through the process of selecting candidates.

The primary election is Tuesday August 12.


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