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Near-record low voter turnout for Onondaga County primaries

Thomas Magnarelli
WRVO News File

When Michelle Sardo, Republican commissioner of the Onondaga County Board of Elections, was asked what kind of voter turnout she expected for the primaries, she estimated about 15-20%. 

However, in the city of Syracuse, only about 13% of registered Democrats made it to the polls. Out of 41,504 voters, only 5,456 actually voted. 

The numbers were worse for the Republican primaries, where only 8% of party-registered voters went to the polls.

“This is low, especially with the mayoral primary,” said Sardo.

She speculated that since this was only local elections, compared to a presidential primary, that people just didn’t care as much. She also said the candidates could’ve campaigned a little more.

“I'm not quite sure why people weren't getting out and voting other than I don't think the candidates were out there enough or maybe people just weren't concerned about it going towards the election,” she said.

Voting wasn’t just lagging in the city on Election Day, but really all across the county. 


“On the outside of the city, even though there were major party primaries out there, people just didn't come out and vote,” said Sardo.

In the city of Syracuse, Khalid Bey leads Michael Greene by just 46 votes in the Democratic mayoral primary. The Board of Elections still has roughly 600 absentee ballots to count before a winner is declared to move on to November's general election.

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.