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Big Turnout Expected for Tomorrow's Wisconsin Primary

National, state and local races are expected to draw 40 percent of eligible voters to tomorrow's Wisconsin primary election. That would be the highest turnout since the 1980 Wisconsin primary election. (lisafx/iStockPhoto.com)
National, state and local races are expected to draw 40 percent of eligible voters to tomorrow's Wisconsin primary election. That would be the highest turnout since the 1980 Wisconsin primary election. (lisafx/iStockPhoto.com)
April 4, 2016

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The largest turnout in decades is expected for tomorrow's Wisconsin primary election, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, or GAB. There are the Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections, which will draw national attention.

There's a hotly contested statewide Supreme Court race between Rebecca Bradley and JoAnne Kloppenburg, and thousands of other state and local races to be decided. The GAB predicts 40 percent turnout.

Kathleen Dolan chairs the political science department at UW-Milwaukee.

"Primary-election turnout is always lower than general-election turnout," says Dolan. "Wisconsin has high turnout no matter what the election, so 40 percent would be good and healthy turnout for a primary, so I would not be surprised by that."

Forty percent turnout would mean about 1.75 million of Wisconsin's eligible voters would show up at the polls tomorrow, which the GAB says would be the highest in a presidential primary since 1980, when 45 percent of the electorate voted. Prior to 1980, turnout routinely ranged between 40 and 50 percent.

Dolan expects Donald Trump will bring new voters to the polls, for and against, in the Republican primary, as will the battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

Wisconsin is somewhat unusual because it is an open primary.

"What significance that has is that anybody who considers themselves to be an independent voter can vote in the primary and can vote in whichever primary they choose," Dolan says. "So an independent voter could choose to vote in the Republican primary or the Democratic primary."

The GAB points out Wisconsin voters will see the names of several candidates who have dropped out of the race for their party's nomination.

Under Wisconsin law, there is no way to remove the name of a candidate who drops out of the race after Jan. 26. The GAB also reminds voters they will have to show appropriate photo ID to receive a ballot.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI