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Election turnout looks low

By Staff | May 11, 2010

As the afternoon commute begins amidst a soaking drizzle voting is going smoothly, if slowly, says Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan.

Maghan reports that some residents working in Washington D.C. had called her office to let election officials know that they would be taking an early MARC train home so they could vote before polls close at 7:30 p.m. Maghan does not think the wet weather is sufficient to warrant an extension of poll hours, noting that such a decision is out of her hands. “At this point, staying open late is not on the table for us, we have to get that sort of order from the state,” said Maghan earlier today.

Maghan reports that turnout for today’s primary election has so far been low. “It’s not exactly gangbusters, I hope it’s no indication of how it will be in the fall, but this primary is very slow,” said Magahn by phone on Tuesday evening.

Voters Joseph and Mary Horky, a retired couple who live near the Shepherdstown Elementary school, agreed with Magahn, noting the small amount campaign literature in their mail during the primary. They also reported that only one candidate from the 57th had visited their house.

“There doesn’t seem to be a compelling issue that has everyone upset, like you had with the table games and the zoning elections,” theorized Mary Horky. “It’s different from the past.”

Another voter, 27-year-old Shepherdstown resident Hunter Kerns, reported that election staff told him he was only the 57th person in the 33rd precinct to cast a ballot by 12:30 p.m, roughly five hours after the polls opened.

Maghan didn’t think the rain had much to do with the low turnout, but she did note that mid-term elections and primary elections are historically under participated. She also compared the interest in this election to the recent table games

The slow pace of todays election will stand in stark contrast to the busy scene tonight in downtown Charles Town. As the results are announced in the crowded chamber of the County Commission, you can expect to see local hopeful politicians, journalists and the general public roaming the main hallway of the courthouse where John Brown was tried for treason barely over 150 years ago. Their eyes will be scanning the posted precinct results, taped to the walls of the hallway, trying to discern their position. Many candidates hold parties for their supporters at local restaurants in Charles Town. “It will be pretty festive, even though it’s a mid-term primary, there are still some heavily contested primaries,” said Maghan.

Staff at the County Clerk say they will also be posting election returns as they come in, precinct by precinct, to Facebook via an official Jefferson County Clerk Facebook page.