FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The clock is ticking if you want to go vote in the primaries, and in less than a week from now, many races will be decided.
Your vote holds a lot of weight, especially with the small amount of people who come out to the polls during a non-presidential year and a primary at that.
Dr. Janine Parry, a political science professor, at the University of Arkansas, said historic highs in voter turnout just isn’t enough.
“It feels like Americans have been kind of congratulating ourselves on increasing voter turnout for the first time in a long time,” said Parry.
Less than half of eligible voters show up in the general elections and an even smaller fraction of those voters are coming to the polls in the primaries.
“The fact that hundreds of people are voting when tens of thousands are eligible, really elevates the significance of those hundreds of votes,” said Parry.
So after doing the math, Dr. Parry said the primaries is where your vote is most likely to shift election results.
“My vote makes a difference I think and I research everybody I don’t vote party,” said Sharon Akers, a Fayetteville resident.
Rodney Hicks, another Fayetteville resident, said he thinks it’s important to vote now to make sure you push your favorite candidates through.
While for others in the city, like Chandler Tisdale, he’s undecided on how important his vote is. He said he is fine with others making the decisions for him.
“If I really truly believed in one of them yeah, sure, I would probably go out there and vote, but I just don’t,” said Tisdale.
Dr. Parry said those who do get out to the polls for the primaries are typically older and have higher incomes, producing more conservative outcomes. She said they also tend to lean far left or far right, meaning the candidates who make it through to the general elections don’t give voters much middle ground options.
“We’re all surprised when the candidates seem extreme by the time we show up,” said Parry.
Dr. Parry said even if voter turnout is bumped up to 25 percent this year, instead of the usual 16 to 20 percent, it still won’t be enough to push the more moderate candidates that represent most people’s ideals through.
The Washington County Election Director told me that she’s seen local races in the primary decided by only three to five votes before, so yours definitely does make a difference.