Voters still few and far between for election

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The special election to elect either Mike Ankeny or Ron Felten to the 5th District seat of the Mower County board of Commissioners is drawing a small voter turnout, but it’s expected to be higher than the special primary last month.

While the 5th District has a population of about 7,600, only about 9 percent of the 4,000 registered voters in the district participated in the special primary June 20.

As of 1:10 p.m., about 104 people had voted at Southgate Elementary School out of about 1,900 people registered to vote at Southgate. About 84 people had voted by 1:05 p.m. during the special primary.

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“People are a little bit more interested or involved as of right now,” said Donald Barnes, an election judge at Southgate.

Barnes and the other election judges at Southgate anticipate more people to vote around 4 p.m. as they leave work and then after dinner time, Barnes said.

About 108 people had voted at Austin High School as of 1:55 p.m. During the special primary, 98 people had voted at the high school by 12:50 p.m. where about 2,100 people are registered to vote.

Colleen Satern, head election judge at the high school, said she it’s been slow at the high school, and she didn’t expect a rush of voters at anytime.

This isn’t the only special election in the last 10 years. About 599 people voted in a special election held March 2, 2001, when Garry Ellingson was elected to the 5th District seat. The 2010 special primary already attracted more voters with 382 compared to 340 during the special primary Feb. 27, 2001.

Both Ankeny and Felten have campaigned seeking votes, but both candidates said they’ve also spent some of their campaign time reminding people to participate in the special election.

Special elections typically have low voter turnout compared to regular elections, which often attract close to 70 percent of registered voters, said Mower County-Auditor Treasurer Doug Groh.