Records from the past four years indicate next week's primary election may see a slight decline in voter turnout in Northeast Michigan compared to previous primaries, if it sees a notable change at all.
The current number of registered voters is down by between 1 and 5 percent from the 2010 August primary elections in Alpena, Alcona and Presque Isle counties but up by 1.3 percent in Montmorency County, though each county lost over 5 percent of its population in the last 10 years. The most recent census puts Alpena County's population at 29,598, and Alpena County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs said 23,200 of them are registered for Tuesday's election. This is officially down by 318 people since last year, she said, though the actual difference is probably a little smaller than that.
"The lists have been cleaned up, duplications removed. We've been working with the state to clean up (the registry)," she said. "We don't have people registered in more than one precinct, and we're working to clean things up."
Friedrichs expects a turnout of about 5,700 people, or about 24 percent, based on similar turnouts for the primary elections in 2008 and 2010. Even in presidential election years, which see spikes in general election participation, turnout for the August primaries has been consistently about one half to one third that of the general elections that follow three months later.
"I think it's been pretty stable when I look back through all these, from '10 to '04," said Friedrichs. "It's been pretty steady."
The U.S. Census Bureau shows an average loss of 777 people a year in Alcona County between 2000 and 2010, and accordingly, Alcona County Deputy Clerk Brenda Cordes said the county is down by 450 registered voters from 2010 and 638 from 2008. Those years saw about 25 percent voter turnout for the August primary, which would mean about 2,300 people this year, but Cordes hopes local efforts to bring out the vote will make a difference this year.
"We've had (local organizations) that have gone out and tried to sign high schoolers up to vote. There was a big push this year," she said. "I know we got several registrations from them going to the high school and having kids register, but time will tell whether or not they're going to turn out and actually vote."
Montmorency and Presque Isle counties both expect between 25 and 30 percent voter turnout based on similar numbers in the past; their 8,034 and 10,736 registered voters, respectively, are both within less than 2 percent of the same figure in 2010.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.