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Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 2:56pm

Historic But Off Year Election Turnout Average

Nearly 40 percent of Macon-Bibb’s 93-thousand registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s historic election. That’s about 36 thousand people.

Some candidates say that is disappointingly low. Among them is former mayor C. Jack Ellis, who is facing a runoff against current mayor Robert Reichert. But Mercer political science professor Chris Grant says that number is not so bad. "That’s pretty good for a municipal race. This was a very high profile, visible race with lots of candidates campaigning and campaigning hard. Not sure if that number is below expectations, but it’s a pretty good turnout in an off, off year election."

Grant says Bibb county can get upwards of 60 percent of voters to the polls in a presidential election. He says turnout has been as low as 10 percent in municipal elections in off years.

Voter turnout will not likely sway the results in next month’s runoff for one of the mayoral candidates.

Grant says although the six-person mayoral race is down to two, it will still be tough for Ellis. "The actual swaying of the Sam Hart electorate, or the swaying of the Charlie Bishop electorate or the Joe Allen electorate, they’re just not likely to go over to former mayor Ellis because he’s got a track record with them and they chose not to vote for him the first time. The likelihood that he’s their second choice is quite low."

Grant says Ellis has to do three things: get his supporters back to the polls next month, get supporters who did not vote at all in the primary to come out for the runoff, and hope that Riechert supporters don’t come out in large numbers. Grant says that’s unlikely as Reichert voters are faithful ones.

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