Election officials report “light” to “average” turnout around the state in today’s primary election. Pottawattamie County Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake says turnout in the Council Bluffs area is “very low.”
“Our absentee turnout was extremely low,” Drake says. “We only had about 600 requests for ballots and as we go from poll to poll, we’re finding out it’s the same out there at our precincts.”
Tom O’Neil, the deputy commissioner of elections in Dubuque County, says turnout there is “fairly light.”
“We can’t tell definitely between Republican and Democratic turnout, but looking at our ballots that we sent out and the number of ballots that remain by party, there are a number of precincts in Dubuque County where the Republicans are out-voting the Democrats and considering the margin of the Democratic majority in Dubuque County, we’ve found that kind of interesting.”
As of three o’clock, fewer than six percent of eligible voters had cast ballots in Linn County. Tim Box, the deputy auditor in Linn County, expects a rush of voting late this afternoon and early this evening, to reach between 10 to 20 percent turnout.
“I’ll tell you, when I got up today we had good absentee turnout, the weather’s great, a high-profile campaign — you’ve got everything going for you to probably have a good 40 percent turnout,” Box says, laughing, adding 10 percent turnout would be average for a primary election.
Scott County Auditor Roxanne Moritz says nearly 11 percent of voters in the Davenport area voted in 2010, but by four o’clock this afternoon only 3.5 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots.
“Just not really seeing that buzz,” Moritz says. “I was hoping for at least 10 percent today. I think we’ll be really lucky if we get to eight percent.”
There’s a local race of interest, with six Republicans competing for three seats on the Scott County Board of Supervisors, but Moritz says that hasn’t spurred turnout.
“It’s still extremely low,” Moritz says.
The number of absentee ballot requests in Scott County is down about 50 percent this year compared to the primary in 2010.
In Iowa’s largest county, the elections chief is Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald. He says the pace of voting today is outpacing the “abysmally low” number of votes cast in the Des Moines area during the primary in 2012.
“We had roughly 14,000 people, in both parties combined, participate in the primary,” Fitzgerald says. “Now 2010 was the hottest one we had because we had Governor Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats in a primary along with a bunch of people running for congress on the Republican side and we had over 41,000. By the end of the night tonight we think we’ll be closer to the 2010 numbers than to the 2012 numbers.”
There’s only one Democratic race in Polk County, for an open senate seat on the south side of Des Moines. It’s been a contenious race and as of this morning almost three-quarters of all the absentee ballots cast in the third congressional district came from that state senate district.
These five auditors collectively represent a million Iowans, which is one-third of the state’s population.
(This post was updated at 5:12 p.m. with additional information.)