MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Turnout for Wisconsin’s spring election, which had only one statewide race on the ballot with a handful of locally hot contests, barely topped 20%, based on unofficial results.
That’s on par with other elections where the state superintendent of schools is on the ballot. In 2017, turnout was just under 16% and in 2013, when there was also a contested Supreme Court race, turnout was just over 20%.
In Tuesday’s election, 921,073 people voted in the race for superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. That is 20.1% of the voting age population of 4,536,417.
Pecatonica Superintendent Jill Underly, who was backed by Democrats and the state teachers’ union, easily defeated former Brown Deer Superintendent Deb Kerr, who was the favorite of Republicans. Underly got nearly 58% of the vote compared with about 42% for Kerr, based on unofficial tallies.
That margin of victory for the liberal-backed candidate is on par with races for the officially nonpartisan seat the past two decades. Since 2001, the candidate favored by Democrats and the teachers’ union has won with between 57% and 70% of the vote, with the average being 62%
Even so, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said Underly’s victory provided the party with momentum headed into 2022.