Voter turnout can differ greatly – even when comparing neighboring communities; So what drives that?

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RIVER HILLS/MILWAUKEE/WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Communities can sometimes produce vastly different voter turnouts -- even as compared with their nearby neighbors. So what factors are in play?

For many of us, the voting experience is often an orderly one. You check in at your polling place, grab a ballot and quietly walk to the closest available booth. The only sound to puncture the silence is the sound that signifies another ballot has been added to the ballot box.

But the quiet may mask what really motivates voters to show up on election day.

"We have to go back to kindergarten and there's a school yard fight and everybody ran over to see who was fighting who and who was winning and who was losing. In other words, conflict and controversy attract attention," UW-Milwaukee professor of governmental affairs Mordecai Lee said.

Pockets of voters within the greater Milwaukee area have seen no shortage of that in this primary election season. Though there can sometimes be a definite difference in voter turnout -- even between nearby communities.

In River Hills, voter turnout tends to be five to ten percent above other areas in Milwaukee County. But why?

"People realize that voting's important and the people here want to make their views known," Richard Stone of River Hills said.

River Hills officials expected to see somewhere around 25 percent voter turnout for the primary on Tuesday, August 12th.

Compared to Milwaukee...

"Normally we'd see somewhere around 10 to 12% but we're actually projecting around 20% because there does seem to be a significant amount of voter interest in a number of the contests on the ballot," Neil Albrecht, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission said.

That brings us back to what Mordecai Lee said about the school yard brawl. Lee says voters who live in an area with an exciting or high-profile race will be more motivated to make the trek to the polls.

"I think we're going to be seeing astonishing discrepancy in terms of turnout. For example, in River Hills we might see 40% turnout -- whereas in places in Waukesha County, we might only see a 10% turnout," Lee said.

Lee say the desire to vote can also be tied to some other factors -- such as your age, your income, and your education level.

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