Apr 06, 2021 4:53 AM

Low voter turnout expected in Buchanan County Tuesday even with bond issue on the ballot

Posted Apr 06, 2021 4:53 AM

By TOMMY REZAC

St. Joseph Post

A proposed $107 million bond issue from the St. Joseph School District that would turn Benton and Lafayette into middle schools and bring the construction of a new high school at the American Family Insurance regional headquarters has been a polarizing topic for months.

But even with the controversial issue on the ballot, Buchanan County officials expect a relatively low voter turnout Tuesday.

Buchanan County Clerk Mary Baack-Garvey expects turnout to be around 20 percent, which she says isn't too abnormal for an April election.

"I'm just kind of basing it on the turnout of absentee (ballots)," she said. "I'm going to stick with 20 percent."

Baack-Garvey does expect a higher percentage of people to vote in-person this time around, especially with COVID-19 numbers down locally.

"Now that the mask mandates have been lifted and people are getting vaccinated and more people are going out," she said. "They prefer to vote at their polling places, so definitely more in-person."

This election consists mostly of school board positions, with a handful of fire district, village board and city council elections across the county. The city of Gower has a mayoral decision on the ballot as well.

Voter turnout was quite high across the country in November 2020, and that includes Buchanan County, which saw a turnout of 69.4 percent. Baack-Gower understands people's interest in the presidential elections, but also stresses the importance of the smaller, more local elections, too.

"I try to stress to people how important local elections are," she said. "It kind of disappoints me to see low turnout in every April election, but that's just the history of how it's been here in Buchanan County."

Polls opened at six o'clock this morning and close at seven o'clock this evening.

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