Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Low turnout expected as voters hit primary polls

Mark Arehart
Delaware Public Media

Primary voting in the Delaware is historically anemic, with well-under 20% turnout for both parties in the last three election cycles. But there are still First State voters who champion the primary process and came out to vote Tuesday.


Sonya McCray was armed with a freshly earned “I Voted Sticker” outside her polling place at the Elks Lodge in Dover.

She brought her 11-year old son Elijah along, to show him the importance of voting in the primaries. But he’s not the only one she wants to guide.

“I teach at Delaware State University and I just left my students. I asked them if they understood the primary process. Nobody really rose their hands. So I think more education needs to come into play. And if you know, tell someone,” McCray said.    

She helped with one Lt. Governor candidate’s campaign and said it showed her the importance of the primary process.

Retired Veteran Janette Christian said she couldn’t ignore this year's unusually competitive primary, with six Democrats vying for both the State’s lone U.S. House Seat and Lt. Governor post.

“If you care about how your state is run and the things that are important to you. You need to vote in the primaries. Being absent is a problem,” Christian said.

In Wilmington, by 9 a.m. the number of voters pulling into or walking into the Woodlawn Library parking lot were outnumbered by the number of election volunteers standing by, waiting to thrust a pamphlet or card in each passerby’s face.


Wilmington resident Malik Morris was one of the few who turned out to vote around that time.


He’s disappointed with the handling of trauma patients in the inner city – an issue he says influenced his vote.


“With all the violence that’s taking place – and the shootings – I think one of the issues is Christiana Care having a trauma unit in our city units as opposed to having to go way out to Christiana. It’s vital time that we’re dealing with,” said Morris.


Although Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington as of July now has the capacity to handle more serious cases of trauma including gunshot and stab wounds, Morris says more still needs to be done to improve services for inner-city residents.


William Hoxter also voted at Woodlawn Library, and the needs of inner-city residents, especially affordable housing, were at the top of his list of priorities.


“When we look at the neighborhood, when we look at the situation in the inner-cities right here – I think we need to keep focus on that," said Hoxter. "That’s one of the main things I’m looking at.”

Hoxter mentioned he was impressed with Wilmington Mayoral candidate Maria Cabrera, and Wilmington City Council president candidate Justen Wright.


Around lunchtime, North Wilmington residents Marilyn and Dennis Siebold turned out to vote at the Brandywine Hundred Fire Station.


Marilyn, who’s a board member for mental health advocacy organization NAMI Delaware, says mental health was a key issue that determined who she voted for.


“Some of the candidates were talking a little bit more than others about supporting funding and programs for people and families with mental health conditions, and I think that’s very important,” said Siebold.


She said she also prefers candidates who make a special effort to connect with her by going door-to-door, and not flood her mailbox with literature and inundate her with phone calls.


Dennis added that he’s concerned about some of the candidates who’ve been incumbents for too long. He believes some of them shouldn’t be re-elected.



Karen Scott is one of a few people we found casting a ballot at Sunnyside Elementary in Smyrna early this afternoon.

She says voting in the primary election is important.

"It lets the general public know who they really want, I believe, because they’re all out there talking. This will let the officials know that we believe what is best for Delaware," said Scott.

Kay Sylvester, another Smyrna voter, adds it’s disappointing more people don’t take the time to have a say in who represents them

"You need to get your voice heard and see who you are behind that believes in what you believe in and thinks the way you think and if you sit home and don’t come out, then stay home and don’t open your mouth when you don’t agree with the way things go," Sylvester said.

Sylvester says she was simply looking for candidates that best matched her views --- and no one race motivated her to head to the polls more than another.


Outside of Lulu Ross Elementary School in Milford, voters came in ones or twos separated by long periods of little activity.


Christine Porter voted in the Democratic primary.  She was also not drawn to the polls by a particular state issue or one of the several candidates running for statewide office.


She says she’s more focused on the presidential election and wants to see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stop bickering back and forth.


“They should be focused on issues like immigration and education and Social Security instead of just fighting over, ‘Well this one is sick and that one’s not [revealing health records],’” said Porter.


Eleanor Kurtz, a longtime registered Republican, agrees, though she does want to see changes at the state level.


She says religion needs to be part of the public school curriculum, as well as a deeper appreciation for America.


“They’re not being taught to be patriotic like we were. Pledge to the flag every morning and say the Lord’s prayer – God’s just been taken out of the schools and I don’t think that’s right,” said Kurtz.


Much of the tone about politics was pessimistic, though both Kurtz and Porter say they’ll keep faithfully casting their ballots.



Related Content