By Madison Friend
Additional Reporting by the New Worcester Spy Staff
State primary voting took place across the state Thursday, but if you blinked in Worcester, you may have missed it. A spate of uncontested races, coupled with a lack of real publicity for the election, meant voter turnout was abysmally low.
According to Patch.com, of the 100,511 registered voters in Worcester, only 5,423 voters turned out – a measly 5.4 percent.
Colin Novick, 43, Warden at the May St voting location on Worcester State University’s campus, attributed the low turnout to a lack of competitive races in the precinct; every candidate on the ballot there ran uncontested, a phenomenon repeated in voting districts across the city.
Novick says the people who turn out to vote in low-stakes elections like these are fulfilling a sense of civic responsibility. Paul Foley, an inspector at the same location, agreed.
“There is no race here,” Foley said. “People that come in to vote come because they feel they should. They’re party people who wouldn’t miss an election. So they turn out and vote.”
But Deb and Jim Mirick, who voted late Thursday afternoon, aren’t party regulars. They learned the importance of voting during Jim’s time serving in the armed forces, and have never missed an election, filing absentee ballots when stationed overseas.
For this primary, they chose a Republican ballot, but only to vote for Evangelidis as Sheriff; the Miricks wrote in Jim McGovern as their choice for U.S. House Representative, though McGovern ran uncontested in the Democratic primary. The pair emphasized the importance of engaging in the political process.
“I vote for who I feel is best for the job, not based on party,” said Deb. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
For voters like the Miricks – “super voters,” Novick called them – the particulars of a single election are less important than the state of democracy as a whole, the future of which, they contend, can only be determined by political participation.