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LOW INTEREST DESPITE BIG MONEY
Tuesday's primary brings more money than voter interest

Date published: 6/7/2009

JENNIFER NEFF

Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary appears to be generating more campaign money than voter interest.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds, former Del. Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, have spent nearly $9 million on their campaigns, according to finance reports filed with the state and compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Despite the spending, area registrars' offices are expecting a low turnout.

"Unless one of our candidates creates a spark, which we haven't seen that happen, then I don't expect a big turnout," Stafford registrar Sharon R. Persinger said.

Persinger expects less than 3 percent of the 74,000 registered Stafford voters to turn out.

Registrars in the Fredericksburg area anticipate turnouts ranging from 2 percent to 5 percent.

Many registrars are using absentee ballots as a way to estimate next Tuesday's turnout. Some offices have received only eight ballots so far. The average number of absentee ballots received in the area as of this week is 19.

"If absentee turnout is any reflection, we've told our [precinct] officials to take a good book," Persinger said.

Fredericksburg registrar Juanita D. Pitchford said her office at 601 Caroline St. has received 56 absentee ballots as of this week.

"That's about right for this type of election," Pitchford said.

Virginia has a history of low voter turnout in non-presidential primaries. In the 2006 Democratic senatorial primary, the voter turnout was 3.95 percent statewide. Locally, turnout rates in the region were about the same, ranging between 1.73 and 4.86 percent, according to the State Board of Elections Web site.

Persinger is disappointed at that.

"It's a real downer for us in the office. It's just sad that Americans are so complacent about voting," Persinger said.

Jennifer Neff 540/374-5000 ext. 5652
Email: jneff@freelancestar.com


Here are phone numbers for area registrars' offices:

Caroline: 804/633-9083

Culpeper: 540/825-0652 or 540/825-0726

Fauquier: 540/347-6972

Fredericksburg: 540/372-1030

King George: 540/775-9186

Louisa: 540-967-3427

Orange: 540/672-5262

Spotsylvania: 540/507-7380

Stafford: 540/658-4000

Westmoreland: 804/493-8898

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY ELECTION

Governor

Terry R. McAuliffe

Brian J. Moran

R. Creigh Deeds

Lieutenant governor

Jody M. Wagner

A. Michael Signer

Jon I. Browerbank*

*withdrew from race