GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Michigan is one week away from the Aug. 7 primary election.
The weather is warm, people are busy traveling and the last thing on many people’s mind is voting.
Voter turnout for the August primary reflects people’s lack of motivation to get to the polls this time of year.
But voters might have more of a say than they think.
A big issue with primary elections in August is the fact that it’s August, according to political expert Jeff Williams, CEO at Public Sector Consultants.
“It’s summertime. Some of the last things people want to do is be thinking of elections," Williams said. “As a general statement, about one in five registered voters go to the polls. So about 20 percent of the voting age population shows up in August.”
The Grand Rapids City Clerk said the primary really matters.
“They forget about these other elections," said Joel Hondorp, the Grand Rapids City Clerk. "And they don't realize that the state, and the county, and the local officials probably spend more of their tax dollars than the federal government does through their property taxes and sales tax.”
It sets the stage for the general election.
“In a lot of cases, once we know who wins the primary, we've got a really good idea of who's going to win the general election because the districts are so lopsided in terms of partisan support,” Williams said.
General election turnout for the last six gubernatorial election years averaged 44.6 percent. Primary turnout was only 19.8 percent.
“We saw four years ago. It was lower because it was an incumbent governor on the Republican side so that was lower turnout," Hondorp said. "There's a lot more excitement, a lot more commercials for those governor candidates on both sides, Republican and Democratic. So that's probably going to draw out some turnout.”
So we can Verify: Your vote more powerful in a primary election
“Your vote is more powerful in a primary election for two reasons," Williams said. "One, only about half the people that vote in a general election vote in a primary, so basically you kind of stand for two voices."
Williams said there's a second reason your vote is very important in a primary.
“In many districts whoever wins the primary from the party that has the base goes on to win in November. So very, very important to help set up the general election contest in November. And instead of being one in two voters in the state, you're basically one in five at the primary.”
Williams said people should, if they haven’t already, look at their election ballot and educate themselves.
To see a sample ballot and polling locations, you can visit the Michigan Voter Information Center webpage.
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