Despite a hotly contested North Shore Senate race and a handful of candidates vying for an opening on the Governor's Council, local election officials are predicting a relatively low turnout in this Thursday's state primary.
Those expectations are based on historical turnout at the polls and due to the fact that the primary is two weeks before it usually is held and it's on a Thursday this year instead of a Tuesday.
In Peabody, City Clerk Tim Spanos is predicting 15 percent of registered voters will make it down to the polls, which was the turnout two years ago without any actual primary races for either Democrats or Republicans.
"Based on the last couple of primaries, no one is coming out," said Spanos, although he added he does believe there is a lot of interest in the Senate race.
As of the registration deadline last month for the primary, 34,840 voters were eligible to vote Thursday, which was up nearly 700 people since the 2010 primary.
Spanos did not have specific party breakdowns available at the time, but according to results from Super Tuesday in March, there were 3,128 registered Republicans in Peabody while the rest of the city's voters are mostly Democrats.
Local political commentators say the Senate candidates -- Edward Carroll, Joan Lovely, Mary-Ellen Manning and John Slattery -- are likely going to be heavily relying on their respective campaigns' ability to get their supporters to the polls with such a light turnout.
The winner on Thursday may also be the presumptive Senator-elect, based on the scant support . Campaign finance reports show Jolitz has not raised any money to date for this race.
Over in Salem, City Clerk Cheryl Lapointe says she's actually hoping for 20-23 percent on Thursday, but going back to 2004, the September primaries "[have] been all over the place" in turns of turnout. Eight years ago in particular, 33 percent of voters hit the polls -- there was a local state Representative race that year in Salem.
"Hopefully it's better than the March election [presidential primary] where it was only nine percent," Lapointe said, adding that the Senate race may make the difference in turnout.
Here are some numbers from elections past:
- 2004 -- 33 percent
- 2008 -- 15 percent
- 2010 -- 10 percent
Lapointe said there 26,908 registered voters in Salem -- 10,507 Democrats, 2,105 Republicans and the remainder unenrolled, Green Party or other political parties.
Danvers Town Clerk Joe Collins says he expects 15-20 percent of voters to come out (there are approximately 18,000 registered voters in Danvers), while Beverly City Clerk Kathleen Connolly anticipates no more than 9 or 10 percent -- possibly less -- which was the turnout for the presidential primary. That number represents 3,490 registered voters who voted in March.
All polls are open Sept. 6 from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. at regular voting precincts.