Candidates in runoff election face problems with ‘voter fatigue’

Outside a polling place in El Paso on March 6, 2018.

Time is up for some candidates in El Paso but not for all of them.

There are runoff elections, including one for county judge, scheduled for May 22. Some El Pasoans think people won't go to the polls.

"Many of us -- I'm speaking for myself -- are not involved in politics," Lizette Rivera said.

"It's pretty hard to know and predict, you know, from now on,” Hector Chavez said.

"And, often, I don't think people understand the importance of a runoff and continuing to support their candidate,” Mitch Moss said.

Historically, there has been a big difference in voter turnout in the regular midterm election compared to the midterm runoff elections.

Compared to the regular election in 2014; 19,492 fewer people voted in the runoff.

In the runoff in 2010, 27,709 fewer people voted. It was a similar story in 2006, when the difference was 26,982.

Blayne Primozich, with El Paso Community College, said that the runoff trend will continue this year.

"It typically has a lot to do with what we call 'voter fatigue,' in cycles,” Primozich said. “It's hard to get voters to come out twice."

Primozich said losing high-profile races for congressional and Senate contests can affect runoff turnout, even if there are big local races, such as the one for the county judge.

"For a lot of voters, their preferred candidate has already won their race,” Primozich said. “So you have to convince them that (they should vote in) other races that they may not have been as interested in or for candidates they may not have been as interested in."

Primozich also said the quick turnaround from a primary and a runoff hinders the candidates' ability to get voters to the polls. It means less time and more money have to be spent to get people to cast their ballots for a candidate.

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