LETTER: Don’t overlook the importance of voting in primary elections

To Ozaukee Press:

As the saying goes, “The world is run by those who show up.” So who is showing up to cast their ballots at primary elections in Wisconsin?  

In 2016, the most recent presidential election year, only 14% of Wisconsin voters participated in the partisan primary held in August, while 47% of Wisconsin voters participated in the presidential preference primary in April. In other words, only one out of seven voters weighed in on which candidates were given the green light to appear on the November ballot for in the U.S. Senate and Wisconsin governor races, and fewer than half of the electorate chose the candidates  who proceeded onto the November presidential election.   

In Wisconsin, primary elections are open. Registered voters do not need to belong to a political party to vote for a party’s candidates.

It’s likely that everyone knows that there will be a presidential election this November, but there will also be three primaries intended to narrow the field prior to a final or general election. These primary elections add competition and give voters additional influence in fleshing out our elected representatives.  

The first primary of this busy election year in Wisconsin will be on Feb. 18 and focuses on nonpartisan offices: state and local judges, county board supervisors, municipal officials and school board members. Statewide, voters will be selecting from three candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Winners of the spring primary will be put on the ballot for the April 7 election.

This year, the April ballot will also include a presidential preference vote — the second of this year’s three primaries — to guide selection of final party nominees for the November presidential election.  

 The final primary of the year on Aug. 11 will narrow the number of candidates for other partisan offices prior to the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Although you can vote in the partisan primary in Wisconsin whether or not you are affiliated with a political party, you can only vote within one of the party primaries on the ballot.  For example, voting for a Republican state senator and a Democratic state representative will invalidate your ballot.

So, why bother participating in primary elections? Your vote is a powerful tool that helps determine which candidates end up on the final ballot, and ultimately who wins and loses an election. By showing up at the voting booth, you exercise one of the great freedoms and rights granted to U.S. citizens, and in doing so you help determine the future of everything from school district spending to U.S. foreign policy.  

Are you ready to vote? To get informed go to myvote.wi.gov to check the status of your voter registration, change your address, register to vote, find your voting location and review “what’s on my ballot?” Also find out about early voting (absentee voting) in your municipality and make sure to bring your photo ID with you when you cast your vote.

Louise Mollinger
Co-chairwoman of voter services
League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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