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Apathy defeats anger in primary election
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All that voter anger and anti-incumbent sentiment this election season didn’t translate into action.

Just 28.3 percent of Hall County voters cast ballots in the primary election Tuesday.

“Even stronger than voter anger is voter apathy,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

Interim Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said there is typically more interest in general elections than primary elections.

“In most cases it is like that,” she said. “In 2006, which was our last gubernatorial race, it was a low turnout.”

In 2006, 29.07 percent of registered Hall County voters came out to the polls in the primary election.

But the number was even lower — just 14.82 percent — in the 2008 presidential primary election. Sosebee said the open presidential race generated a lot of buzz that didn’t materialize at the polls.

“That was very shocking to all of us throughout the state,” Sosebee said.

Bullock said in 2006 and 2008, turnout was about 21 percent statewide in the primary election.

He said low turnout is common and could be attributed to the fact that general elections are more important than they were in the past.

 “The primaries, at least for the high profile statewide positions, are not as determinative as they used to be. If you go back to the one party days when everybody was a Democrat, well then winning the Democratic nomination determined who was going to be the office holder,” Bullock said. “Often there wouldn’t even be a Republican you could vote for if you wanted to in November.

“Now you can say, I didn’t vote in the primary but that was just the prelims, I’m waiting until the general election.”

Sosebee said she expected to turnout to be a little bit higher than it was this year.

“I look at the turnout for the (May 11) special election we just had and it was 17 percent,” Sosebee said. “We should be able to pull double in a primary.”

She said voter fatigue could be part of the problem because of the special election and special election runoff that were held before the primary.

“I was disappointed, but Hall County has participated in three elections already,” Sosebee said.

Sosebee said based on the primary election, it will be difficult to predict turnout in November.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what the general election is going to pull,” Sosebee said.

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