WILMINGTON -- A week from Tuesday voters will head to the polls to decide who will represent their municipalities. But just how many voters actually bother to cast their ballots in local elections? Political analysts say the average voter turnout for local elections is anywhere between 10 and 20 percent. Experts say there are few factors that contribute to that seemingly low percentage. UNCW junior Aubry Grant said, "Local elections are the elections that you have the most say in as opposed to presidential elections." Your vote counts, especially on the local level. That's how you choose who represents you and then hold them accountable. UNCW Public and International Affairs professor Johnston Lee said, "If the citizens are unaware of what's going on then the candidates have free reign to do what they wish." The October 9 city of Wilmington election brought 22 percent of registered voters out to the polls. While that's higher than the statewide average, Lee says that's still not high enough. "Most people forget about the local elections, and that's why you often have run-offs because everyone is competing as an unknown candidate," Lee said. Lee says local politicians have a lot less visibility to voters, than state and presidential elections. "They are really committed if they vote in local elections. Local and state are the least covered of any politics," Lee said. UNCW senior Kevin Goins said, "I think it's more so the candidates because I'm not really aware of any of the candidates up for election. I don't feel they've done enough publicity events to promote their name." Another reason? Professor Lee says that we -- the local media -- may be simplifying the issues too much. "Part of it is the fault of the media because we make every race out to be a horse race and we look for easy simple solutions to why candidates are running and their platforms and all." As for what voter turn out will look like next week, professor lee says experts are much better at explaining it than predicting it. Election Day is November 6. Tuesday was the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail. One-stop voting goes through November 3.
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