More than 20,000 Eau Claire County residents stepped into the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots in the race for school boards, judges, mayoral candidates and the GOP primary race.
Incumbent Kerry Kincaid was re-elected City Council president with 60 percent of the votes. For the sought-after Eau Claire school board positions, Wendy Sue Johnson and Kathryn Duax were the two winners, according to Eau Claire County election results.
County Clerk Janet Loomis said 25 percent of eligible voters in the county cast ballots on Tuesday, which she said was not surprising.
“I expected that kind of turnout, or perhaps a little better,” she said. “We had a pretty hot Altoona mayoral race as well as for those two Eau Claire school board spots.”
Nationwide, eyes turned again to the state when news outlets predicted that Wisconsin was the potential end of the GOP presidental nomination race. Alexander Burns of Politico said, “Wisconsin is the marquee prize, and the triumph most likely to push the GOP nomination fight toward conclusion.”
The GOP race for Wisconsin, though, was somewhat close — the two major candidates landed within 5 percent of each other, with 42.5 percent of votes going to Mitt Romney and 37.6 to Rick Santorum, according to the National Public Radio GOP primary map.
Eau Claire County did not reflect the state’s decision of Romney, with Santorum snagging 39.4 precent of votes, compared to Romney’s 36.1. Additionally, Ron Paul fared well in Eau Claire County, with 13.3 percent of the votes.
Freshman Danielle Decock stepped into the polling area on Tuesday for the first time to vote after being reminded by a political science professor of the primary.
“It’s so exciting – and I really like it because you can actually do something without protesting or calling people,” she said. “All you have to do is vote and you can do so much.”
She added that her age group (18-24 year-olds) is not the best at turning up to the polls.
“The more college students who vote in the future, the more we show we care about this,” she said.
Decock was one of just a few students to come out and vote on-campus. Eau Claire City Clerk Donna Austad said on-campus voter turnout was 215 total. Other student voting totals are not readily available, as off-campus residents are grouped into Eau Claire’s various wards.
Upcoming elections include the primary for democrats running in the special elections in May, Governor Walker’s recall election in June, the fall general election primaries in August and November’s general election.
Loomis said she anticipates a much higher turnout for forthcoming elections throughout the year, specifically the general election.
“In (the Presidential primary in) 2008, we had a 42 percent turnout, but that time it was an open seat, so you had options rather than just a one-party ticket,” Loomis said. “The partisan primary in August depends on candidates, which we don’t know until June. But in the end, the presidential race is the highest of
Austad echoed Loomis, but predicted a higher percentage of voters with the general election primaries in August.
“Definitely for November and June, I anticipate a higher turnout,” she said, “although I’m not sure what percentage to turn out for May for the recall primary – that’s a whole new animal to us.”
Decock said she plans to vote in upcoming elections on-campus and to continue following the presidential race.
“It really doesn’t take that much time — just vote,” she said. “Even if you don’t know a candidate, go search and see what they stand for and if you agree with it. It doesn’t take that much effort, even if you’re not into politics.”