Voters, So Far, Appear To Confirm Pessimistic Turnout Predictions

Nov 7, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

   It is Election Day in the largest municipalities in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, but it appears the majority of registered voters have not noticed. 

    In an off-year election with no statewide races, it can be pretty slow at the polls.

    But Springfield is trying to rebound from a dismal preliminary election in September that saw a voter turnout of just over 5 percent – a record low.

   At the Ward 6 polling place in the Forest Park Library, Vinnie Ferraro, the election warden of more than 20 years, said Tuesday they might have a shot at doubling the turnout from the preliminary.

   " Ten percent maybe, just making it, but it's hard to tell," he said.

   Decisions by two veteran Springfield City Councilors not to run for reelection drew into the race for councilor-at-large a field of community activists and one former councilor.  There are open School Committee seats and contested races for half of the eight ward council seats.

  But still, Ferraro says the candidates struggle to overcome the voters’ apathy.

"They do campaign pretty good, but they don't bring ( the voters) out," lamented Ferraro.

  There are plenty of issues.  Voters interviewed today said they are concerned about the economy, crime and the city’s schools. 

  After casting his ballot, Rudy Fogel said he thinks people don’t vote because of cynicism about government.

  "I don't think they trust elected officials anymore," he said.

  Another person who voted in Springfield Tuesday, Todd Federici, said people are just too busy to take time to vote.

   " Unless it is something really big, and I say that in quotation marks because this is big," he said.

  Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola recorded a robocall that went out on election-eve in hopes of boosting turnout.   She said steadily declining voter participation is a worrisome national trend.

   "It is one of those things that is elusive for us to put a finger on why people don't vote," said Oyola. "But it is always candidate-driven, I think."

  There is no mayoral election in Springfield this year because the incumbent is in the middle of a four-year term.

  But even in Holyoke, where there is a contested election for mayor and the winner will serve a four-year term for the first time, the city clerk is forecasting turnout to be about 30 percent.

      There are also contested races for mayor today in Northampton, Easthampton, Agawam, and North Adams.