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Off-Year Election Tough To Call

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Voters in Washtenaw County and across the nation will go to the polls Tuesdayin'what is traditionally referred to as an "off-year" eleetion. Tbrnouts in such elections are generally low, especially in comparison' with Presidential elections with their higher drawing cards. Already one of the most politically historie years in our nation's history, 1974 might turn out to be "off.' the usual offyear predictions. In a year when political and economie turmoil have been the rule rather than the exception, political barometers are registering turnout predictions that range from significantly higher voter turnout to dismally lower electoral interest. Politica! cynicism and distrust of office-seekers might tend to put voters in a what-does-it-matter frame of mind, goes one theory; another theory has it that increasing concern with the state of the economy and the nation might pique otherwise lagging interest. "How about an 'I don't know'?" was the first response of State Elections División Director Bernard J. Apol when asked for his forecast. "Who knows if people are turned on or turned off?" he wondered. Apol said state registration records show some C785,000 voters on the books, but he cautioned that there is no way oi knowing how many of them are actually voters. He pointed out that a change in registration recording procedures two years ago eliminated automatic cancellation of registrations if voters hadn't voted within the previous two years, so many ñames may now be carried on local clerks' lists long after voters have moved or otherwise ceased to be potential voters. He did say he estimates between 2 650 000 and 2,750,000 voters will go to the' polls Tuesday, a figure that falls short of 60 per cent of the statewide registration total. Apol said the economie situation as well as "vigorous" voter interest in local Congressional races may help to raise what he said were "dismal" predictions from sorhe quarters about Tuesday's statewide turnout. Conceding that his prediction is "considerably higher" than some, he said some forecasts are calling for only 2 200 000 votes. In the last off-year election in 1970, Apol said some 2,656,000 of the state's 3, 969,000 voters went to the polls - more' than 66 per cent. In 1972, a Presidential year, more than 73 per cent voted. Washtenaw County Clerk Robert M. Harrison reported that some 152,187 ' ers are registered for this election, a .jump of more than 12.000 voters tered since the August primary, when 139,802 were eligible to cast bailo ts. The last off-year election in the county ♦ in 1970 was before 18 to 21-year-olds were eligible to vote. Some 99,495 voters were registered for that election, and 66.2 per cent actually cast ballots. Harrison said he doesn't expect the turnout percentage to be much different from the 1970 figure. Livingston County Clqrk Joseph Ellis agrees with Harrison's prediction of an approximately 70 per cent voter turnout. Ellis said interest in seVeral local contests as well as two circuit judge races in that county should help draw well from the county's 34,674 registered voters. Ann Arbor City Clerk Jerome S. Weiss, who has come under political fire over availability of voter registration stations, is expecting a "good sized turnout." The city's 80,111 registered voter count, said Weiss, reflects a jump of more than 9,600 over the number registered for the August primary. In the 1970 off-year election (again, before collegeage young people were eligible to vote), 31,225 of the city's 46,689 registered voters cast ballots. Both the county and the city registered extremely high turnouts in the 1972 Presidential election, when nearly 80 per cent of.the city's voters and some 77 per cent of county voters went to the polls. That was the year that Geörge McGovern won Ann Arbor, although he didn't win much else. This year, a Congression al race involving a young worker ir McGovern's national 1972 campaign - John S. Reuther - might spark some votër interest. Reuther, attempting to unseat Republican Marvin L. Esch, is one of many new young Democratie faces hopeful of capitalizing on the year's turmoil to make a national Democratie sweep. Weiss sees intense city interest in a controversial preferential voting question on the city ballot. The proposal would change the method of mayoral election and, many feel, strengthen the voice of the city's Human Rights Party. Ann Arbor League of Women Voters and both major pofitical parties indicated they're ready to assist in the effort to get out the vote. The League will provide voter information all day election day only. Telephones are 761-0978, 971-7985 and 662-8514, and they will be "womanned" all day from 7 a.m. to7p.m. County Republicans will assist with rides to the polls, babysitting or "whatever service we can" said a party worker. That telephone number is 6622721. City Democrats can be reached at 6656529 or 994-3220 on election day. They will provide voting and poll information I and will put callers in touch with people I who can provide rides to the polls, 1 bysitting and other voter assists. I