Some say you should “absolutely” vote in off-year elections

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WHITEFISH BAY (WITI) -- April 1st marked Election Day in Wisconsin -- but not many people were expected to vote. With no major statewide races at stake, poll workers didn't have much company on Tuesday! However, those who follow politics closely say these are the elections you should absolutely vote in.

Turnout at the Whitefish Bay Library on Tuesday, April 1st far exceeded the statewide projection. By mid-afternoon, turnout was already at 16% for half the Village of Whitefish Bay's wards.

"I think local elections probably affect me on a daily basis more than the national elections or statewide elections," Barry Diamond said.

Diamond, who cast his vote on Tuesday, is among those in the minority.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board projected that statewide, 12% of eligible voters would cast a ballot on Tuesday.

UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says he can understand why there's a low turnout.

"Because it doesn't have the sex appeal of a highly coveted, highly important, hotly contested race," Lee said.

Lee points out that when there's a lower turnout, your vote means more.

"When you look at how few thousands of votes are going to be cast (Tuesday) in Milwaukee County and in some of these suburbs, you're gonna have elections determined by a handful of votes," Lee said.

Those votes will determine a variety of local races for positions like mayor, village trustee and circuit court judge.

Voters in Milwaukee County had a referendum on the ballot regarding how much Milwaukee County Supervisors are paid. It is a "binding referendum."

"Here's the odd exception where a local referendum is real, is mandatory, has an impact -- so that if it passes, we know exactly what's gonna happen," Lee said.

"Everyone should vote in the off-year elections and in smaller elections -- not just people who are politically active . Everyone should vote because it has a huge impact," Diamond said.

Lee says in low turnout elections, voters traditionally have above-average salaries, are well-educated and are older than the average voter in a high-turnout election. He says this tends to favor more conservative candidates.