Voter Turnout Very Low in Dane County

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: Come on in, there is no wait. An empty polling station was the scene across Dane County.

Dane County Clerk Bob Ohlsen called the turnout terrible. "We know the turnout is pretty low. In Madison it's about 5 percent (in the early afternoon), which is extremely low."

The lines were longer at the post office than at the polling place at the Madison Municipal Building. Last fall nearly 600 voters cast their ballot here in the presidential election. By early afternoon, only 34 people had voted.

Ohlsen says the lack of high profile races leads to a lack of interest. "(In the fall) for months ahead of time they talk about the election. In the spring they don't. On a beautiful day like this it's even further from people's minds."

Most people on the street didn't want to talk about why they didn't vote. "No time today I guess would be my answer," said Stephanie Radl of Morrisonville.

Those that did vote couldn't specify a real important issue. They just felt obligated.

"I think it's very important for people to get out and participate in a civic duty like voting, especially when people are making very important decisions," says Jennifer Jones of Madison.

People say voting gives them the moral high ground when it comes time to complain about our local politicians.

"It does get a little frustrating when people spend a lot of time complaining and don't participate in voting," says Jones.

"I think that somebody always has the right to complain but I don't think necessarily they have the right to complain about the big picture if they're not doing anything to affect it themselves," says Matt Fanale of Madison.

"I tell them you can't complain. If you didn't exercise your right to vote you shouldn't be saying anything about it," says Ohlsen.

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