No stampede to the polls in Madison on Tuesday

February 21, 2019

Just one in six voting-age residents in Madison cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary despite citywide contests for mayor and School Board.

More localized races for City Council drove higher turnout in some wards. But overall, just 37,706 ballots were cast in a city with an estimated voting-age population of 210,926 people, or 17.8 percent.

Incumbent Paul Soglin and challenger Satya Rhodes-Conway were the top two vote-getters in the mayoral race at 29 percent and 28 percent of the vote, respectively. Advancing to the April 2 general election in races for Madison School Board were Cristiana Carusi and Kaleem Caire for Seat 3, Ali Muldrow and David Blaska for Seat 4 and Ananda Mirilli and TJ Mertz for Seat 5.

The only other Dane County races on the ballot Tuesday were primaries for one seat on the Fitchburg City Council — with Janell Rice and Ed Kinney advancing to the general election — and president in the village of Brooklyn, where 78 of an estimated 675 voting-age residents cast ballots — with Brit Springer and Kyle Smith the top vote-getters.

Turnout for spring primaries in odd-numbered years is usually low unless there’s a statewide race on the ballot. In 2015, just 22,397 people voted in the spring primary for Madison mayor, which was won by Soglin and Scott Resnick.

By contrast, in the 2018 mid-term election in November, which also featured races for governor and attorney general, 67.5 percent of the voting-age population in Madison cast ballots, as did almost 70 percent in Dane County.