Primary draws 5% of voters

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Don Bridgers | Tidewater News Franklin Precinct 4 election workers looking over paperwork are Roy Hunter, from left, Nellie Rogers, Joan Chambilss and Effie King. As of 9 a.m., three hours after the polls opened Tuesday, nobody had voted at the precinct in the Republican presidential primary.

COURTLAND—Courtland poll workers always place a friendly wager on election-day turnout.

While Chief Election Officer Charles Arrington bet that 47 out of the precinct’s 1,403 voters would show on Tuesday for the Republican presidential primary, co-worker Patricia Jordan wagered on 67. By 3:30 p.m., there were 44.

Jordan based her bet on apathy, a two-candidate ballot, an inability to do write-ins and a misunderstanding about the primary.

“A lot just don’t understand what Super Tuesday really is,” she said. “It’s for everybody who is a registered voter, not just Republicans.”

Turnout in Western Tidewater was about 5 percent.

In Franklin, less than 5 percent, or 285 of the city’s 5,866 voters, turned out; 184 chose former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 101 voted for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Southampton County saw 609 of its 12,332 voters, or less than 5 percent, at the polls. Romney received 316 votes and Paul 293.

In Isle of Wight County, 1,496 of 26,363 voters, or 6 percent, turned out; 847 chose Romney and 640 chose Paul.

By 1 p.m. Tuesday, Franklin election workers at the American Legion on Armory Drive had four voters. From 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., there was no one.

“I expected at least five (by now),” joked Chief Election Officer Paul Kaplan. “I knew it would be a lower turnout. It’s a Republican primary and there has been no advertising. Friends of mine who are Republicans didn’t know we were having one (an election.)”

At Franklin’s Precinct 4, 52 out of 1,100 to 1,200 voters had turned out by 1 p.m., according to Chief Election Officer Bonnie Widner.

“I didn’t expect much of a turnout,” Widner said. “I think if there would’ve been more candidates on the ballot, we would’ve had a larger turnout.”

To kill time, election workers read, eat, do puzzles and gossip.