Springfield is in the rare position of preparing for two special elections in under a month, one to fill the state’s vacant senate seat, and another to approve or deny a proposed downtown casino, and both votes take place in the middle of summer. City election officials are expecting low voter turnout.
The April primary for the special senate election saw just 7.9 percent of eligible voters turn out, according to Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola. She says she expects Tuesday’s special election between Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Ed Markey to attract a somewhat higher turnout.
“Do I think it’s going to be drastically higher? No, not necessarily,” she says. “I can’t see that it’s going to get into the 20 percent range. I’m always hopeful, obviously, because I do expect as many people to turn out as possible, but I don’t think it’s going to be drastically different than the primary.”
Based on absentee ballot requests and new voter registrations so far, Oyola says she thinks the July 16th referendum on MGM Resort’s proposed downtown casino will bring in more voters than Tuesday’s special election.
“Hopefully we’d get 30 percent, 40 percent, which is a high turnout for just a local election with one question on it.”
Oyola adds that June 26th, the day after the special election, is the last day for Springfield voters to register for the casino referendum.