Friday, December 1, 2023

Recapping the Delaware primaries: nominations, upcoming midterm elections and voter turnout

NewsDelaware NewsRecapping the Delaware primaries: nominations, upcoming midterm elections and voter turnout

Managing News Editor

With midterm elections approaching, the last of state primaries are wrapping up around the country, including in Delaware. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Delawareans cast their votes in statewide primary elections to determine the final party ballots for Election Day on Nov. 8. 

Ballots consisted of a total of 21 primaries between Republican and Democratic candidates alike, with three State Senate and 11 State Representative candidates being determined for the upcoming election, among local government elections in all three counties as well. 

State Representative and university alumna Madinah Wilson-Anton, who made history in 2020 as the first muslim person in Delaware’s State Legislature, defended her position as incumbent by winning her primary in District 26. 

“Thank you to all of my neighbors in the 26th for your continued faith in me,” Wilson-Anton wrote in an Instagram post, “I’m honored to serve our community.” 

After securing the Democratic nomination, Wilson-Anton will face Republican candidate Timothy Conrad on Election Day. 

Perhaps the most telling result from the primary election this year came when incumbent Auditor of Accounts Kathleen McGuiness lost to political newcomer Lydia York. This followed McGuiness becoming the first statewide elected official in Delaware to be found guilty of criminal charges while serving after hiring her daughter as a part-time employee. 

York won with over twice as many votes after a campaign in which she outraised McGuiness and garnered endorsements from state Democrats who previously failed to convince McGuiness to step aside and in an attempt to pass a motion to forcibly remove her from office. 

Another change occurred in State Senate District 16, when long-serving incumbent Colin Bonini lost to Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Eric Buckson for the Republican nomination. Bonini has held office since 1995 but come January his seat will in all likelihood be filled by Buckson, who is currently unchallenged in November’s election. 

“I wish to thank the great constituents within the 16th Senate District for their love and support over the years,” Bonini wrote in a Sept. 14 Facebook post in response to the primary results. “It has been a privilege to serve you for the past 28 years.” 

In addition to finalizing party nominations for Election Day, the primaries this year raised serious questions regarding civic engagement in the first state. Data reflects that only 16.2% of registered voters in Delaware participated in the primary elections this year, significantly down from 32.26% in the 2020 primaries. 

With Election Day looming, low voter turnout may hinder representative governance not only in Delaware but across the country. Midterm election years have historically had a 20% lower voter turnout than years in which presidential elections take place, according to data that tracks historical voting participation in American elections. 

Delaware models this statistic as well, with 70.7% of eligible voters participating in the 2020 election compared to 51.2% in the midterms of 2018. However, voter turnout has been increasing steadily in Delaware over the past five election years, which may prove this month’s low primary participation to be an exception, rather than the new rule. 

The state of voter turnout in Delaware this year is a question officials will not be able to accurately answer until polls close on Election Day later this fall, giving Delawareans, 18 years and older, six weeks to research the finalized list of candidates and prepare to vote.




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