Dramatically low voter turnout in Syracuse mayoral primaries

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — At approximately 7,000 people, more people watched fireworks at the State Fairgrounds last week than voted in either the Democratic or Republican primary in Syracuse Tuesday.

Of 41,504 registered Democrats in the City of Syracuse, unofficial totals show 5,456 people voted in-person Tuesday or throughout the nine days of early voting. That’s 13 percent of the total registered.

There are 558 absentees back so far, and 35 affidavit ballots ruled eligible bring the number to 6,049. Khalid Bey leads fellow Common Councilor Michael Greene by 46 votes.

There are fewer registered Republicans in the City of Syracuse, clocking in at 9,584; but by percentage, their performance was worse. A total of 749 voted in-person Tuesday or over nine days of early voting, which was roughly 8 percent of all of them.

The 94 absentees that arrived as of Tuesday brings the total to 843 which was 9 percent of the total.

Janet Burman declared victory over opponent Thomas Babilon, who is too far behind for absentee ballots to make a difference. Babilon told NewsChannel 9 Wednesday that while he hasn’t conceded, but he expects Burman will win.

“It could be voter fatigue of hyper partisan activity over the last four years,” Onondaga County’s Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny told NewsChannel 9. “We just don’t know.”

Cities across the New York State Thruway like Buffalo, Rochester and Albany also had poor turnouts for their mayoral primaries. The same is true for the hotly-contested race for Mayor of New York City. There, the Democratic winner is likely to become mayor due to lack of a strong Republican challenger in November.

In Syracuse, the turn-out could have been made worse because of the current mayor’s independent status.

Four years ago, Mayor Ben Walsh earned the votes of multiple democrats and republicans. If those voters still support him and plan to vote for him in November, they may find no need to pick another candidate for their party.

In an interview with NewsChannel 9, Mayor Walsh said, “I did hear from some people that said they were registered in parties and said ‘I’m going to wait until November and wait for you,’ which I appreciate. I think in order to have the democracy that we all deserve, we need more people participating. I didn’t gain any satisfaction in seeing a low turnout.”

“Voters just seem to think presidential elections or governor elections are their elections, the only time we work and have elections,” said Onondaga County Republican Elections Commissioner Michele Sardo. “These races are important. Local elections are very important.”

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