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Absentee ballot figures point to low turnout in GOP race


Most pundits expect a very low turnout in the federal GOP primary today.
The number of absentee ballots that have been issued in several counties bolsters the low-turnout prediction, especially when you compare them with the April 24 presidential primary, which saw very low turnout.
In Clinton County, for example, the Board of Elections sent out 269 absentee ballots for today's primary for Senate and Congress. For the April 24 presidential primary, a roughly equal number — 257 — were issued. Turnout in that race was 5 percent. In Franklin County, officials sent out 179 absentee ballots. For the April 24 primary, they sent out 215. Total turnout in that race: 5 percent.
I asked Emily McCabe, the deputy Republican commissioner in Warren County, whether the 478 absentee ballots issued there were a sign of a low turnout.
"We always like to be optimistic, but I’d say so," Ms. McCabe said. "We saw these low numbers for the presidential turnout, too."
Ms. McCabe said that her office has received several phone calls from voters who didn't even know there was a primary today.
You can't directly compare one race with another. There are factors that make each unique — for example, Rick Santorum didn't drop out until late in the presidential primary race against Mitt Romney, and absentee voters can send in their ballots well in advance, so that skews the numbers a bit.
But the paltry figures suggest that turnout could again be in the single-digits.
Which makes get-out-the-vote efforts all the more important. Matt Doheny and Kellie Greene, the candidates looking to take on Democratic Rep. Bill Owens in November, understand this. Supporters have been phone-banking for both candidates in the past two days in hopes of turnout out every last voter.
Also on the ballot: the primary for Senate. Wendy Long, George Maragos and Bob Turner are looking to face off against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

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