Shame on us! Few Wisconsin voters go to the polls for primary election Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Sep. 04, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

Shame on Wisconsin voters! Approximately 12.7 percent of eligible voters turned out for the August 12  partisan primary, according to results certified by the state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB).

There were 552,342 votes cast in primaries for governor, which is 12.7 percent of Wisconsin’s 2014 voting-age population of 4,348,307, according to Census estimates.

Before I proceed, I have to confess that I am one of those citizens who did not vote in the August 12 primary. I could plead that I was too busy: I worked all day and attended the Diocese of Madison’s Lumen Christi Society event that evening.

But that is really no excuse. I could have left work to vote or even stopped by the polling place between work and the evening event.

I have to admit that I didn’t take the primary election seriously. My husband, on the other hand, did vote, as he always does. It put me to shame.

Every vote is important

After hearing about some of the very close primary elections around Wisconsin, I realized how important every vote is!

As of August 29, for example, the GAB website posted that Juneau County had completed its recount of the Senate District 17 primary election. The final numbers show only a 33-vote edge for Pat Bomhack over Ernie Wittwer. A judge will still have to certify the recount. Once it is certified, Wittwer will have five business days beginning September 2 to challenge the results.

There were also very close results in the 87th Assembly District, with just a 19-vote lead for Michael Bub over James Edming after the recount, and another close race in the sixth Congressional District between Glenn Grothman and Joe Leibham.

In some races, there were no candidates in both parties, so the primary race in one party actually determined who would win the seat.

All of these situations emphasize the importance of voting in every election, including the primaries. Voting is one of the special rights — and responsibilities — we have as citizens of our country.

Bishops urge us to be faithful citizens

The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin have reminded us of the importance of being faithful citizens. In a letter to Catholics in Wisconsin issued in July, the bishops of the five dioceses in Wisconsin urged citizens to “exercise your fundamental right to vote.” But equally important, they encouraged Catholics to “become actively engaged in the life of your community.”

The bishops said, “Bring to bear all the wisdom and experience that Catholic social teaching and your faith have to offer.”

The bishops reminded us that we should enter the public square with a “spirit of humility and with love for our fellow human beings, even and especially when we disagree with them.” It is so important that we discuss and debate the issues with civility.

The Catholic Herald has published the bishops’ letter in the September 4 issue along with the seven fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching. This is the first in a series of resources on Faithful Citizenship produced by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, which we have always published in our paper in election years. Copies of these materials are also available at

We hope voters will read these materials, study the issues and candidates’ positions, and — most of all — remember to vote in every election, especially the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4. I promise to vote this time!