Lackluster NJ Assembly races may lead to record low voter turnout

 Election official Phyllis Detwiler waits for voters at the Collingswood Community Center. (NewsWorks file photo)

Election official Phyllis Detwiler waits for voters at the Collingswood Community Center. (NewsWorks file photo)

All 80 seats in the New Jersey Assembly are up for election Tuesday, but political analysts say voters just aren’t very interested.

In fact, Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley said he anticipates a record low voter turnout.

“The trend in recent years, especially for off-cycle elections like this one, has been a declining turnout,” he said. “In addition to that, there’s just a great deal of frustration by voters, the idea that nothing will change … so what’s the point?”

What’s more, said John Weingart at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, there’s really no specific statewide issue Democrats and Republicans have concentrated on in this election.

“Even though there are a lot of disagreements on all kinds of policies, the election hasn’t become focused on any one or two of them,” he said.

Voters just haven’t been paying much attention to the Assembly elections, added Brigid Harrison, a Montclair State University political science professor.

“These Assembly races have been overshadowed by the presidential race particularly for GOP nomination,” she said. “So there’s low voter interest.”

Rider University political scientist Ben Dworkin said another contributing factor to what he expects will be a historic low voter turnout is that most of the legislative districts favor one party over another,  and the races really aren’t competitive

“I think people show interest when there’s a race that they care about and when there’s something at stake,” he said. “But when the race is a foregone conclusion, it’s hard to motivate a lot of people to vote.”

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