HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Primary day in two cities in western Massachusetts did not bring out the voter turnout many election officials expected. Chicopee had a two percent voter turn-out and a mayoral matchup in Holyoke brought out less than 19 percent of registered voters.
The numbers in Holyoke are coming from a seven-candidate primary race for mayor and it’s been more than nine years since the city elected a new mayor.
“We got just about 19 percent voter turnout, which obviously is not great, but it is about five percent higher than we saw four years ago in our last mayoral election preliminary,” said Holyoke City Clerk Brenna Murphy McGee.
Murphy McGee broke down the election result numbers for us. In September of 2017, the mayoral primary including incumbent mayor Alex Morse drew in just under 14 percent of registered voters to the polls. This time around, that number is just under 19 percent.
For the November 2017 Holyoke mayor election, the voter turnout was 31 percent - more than double the primary turnout and 12 points higher than the primary this year.
“We would have liked to see a high turnout, but unfortunately, like a history of preliminary elections just shows that people just don’t seem as interested in preliminary elections as they do in regular municipal elections,” Murphy McGee noted.
The two candidates that will face off for the Holyoke mayor seat in November are Mike Sullivan and Joshua Garcia. They told Western Mass News why they believe the voter turnout was on the lower side on Tuesday.
“It’s divided by income and it just so happens that those neighborhoods that are lowest in income are predominately Hispanic and you see lower voter turnout in those neighborhoods. That leads to other questions and concerns about representation,” Garcia said.
Sullivan added, “There was nothing else on the ballot at all except this. There was no city council, no ballot questions, no state thing, so we knew it would be low.”
Over in Chicopee, their voter turnout for a citywide school committee spot and Ward 5 city council seat brought out less than two percent of voters. We tried to look up data to compare past elections, but Chicopee City Clerk Keith Rattell told us in a statement:
“Typically, a municipal election can run about 12% to 35% citywide depending on voter interest. We could not find a race historically that matched up with Tuesday's ballot.”
Rattell explained why things could have played out the way they did, adding:
“It could be an indication that they may be happy with the way things are being run. Usually, there’s a groundswell of support for change when change is needed and we didn’t see that on Tuesday.”