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Bird Library attracts low voter turnout for Democratic primary

The primaries for this year’s election started Tuesday, with only a handful of voters taking to the polls at E.S. Bird Library.

Voters selected possible candidates for city court judge, councilors-at-large, city mayor and other positions.

Most of the primaries on the ballot were Democratic. There is currently not set date for the Republican mayoral primary.

Voters were scarce at the polling booths, with only two votes cast at the library before 1:30 p.m, said Norm Keim and Gloria Paul, two volunteers at the voting booths.

Five hours later, at 6:30 p.m., 10 voters had shown up, they said.

Paul, 63, a voting machine specialist, said she blames this year’s low turnout on a growing disconnect between voters and politicians.

“The only good turnout (at Bird library) was for the presidential election last year, which is a shame,” she said.

While there were 283,456 total voters registered at the time of the 2009 mayoral election, only 93,260 people voted that day, leading to a 32.9% turnout rate, according to Onondaga County Board of Elections statistics.

Total voter turnout in Onondaga County for the 2012 presidential election was 77 percent, higher than the turnout rate at Syracuse’s 2009 mayoral election, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections’ website.

Keim, 84, who has volunteered at election polls for 25 years, said it’s a distressing sign that voter turnout for local elections is this low.

“Overall, there is just no interest in the local elections, which is a shame because they are the most important.” He said. “We’re lucky if we get 50 people during a local election.”

There are 1,440 people registered to vote at Bird, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections. If only 50 people showed up, it would be a 3.5 percent turnout for the Bird polling station, according to the website.

Dick Kusnierczyk, 68, who’s currently retired, was one of the two voters who showed up before 1:30 p.m. Kusnierczyk said he voted to bring attention to issues he thought needed to be addressed in the city.

“I really think we need more police on the other side of Thornden Park. There is a lot of traffic there that isn’t people just passing through. I see a lot of drug deals and gangs around,” he said. “I hope to see security cameras introduced in the coming months to help with this issue.”

He did not indicate for which candidate he voted.

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