Posted: Sept. 14, 2006
By Celia Cohen
Turnout was abysmal, in the single digits percentage-wise, during Primary Day on Tuesday, but the thousands and thousands of Delawareans who did not manage to vote have quite a role model for an excuse.
Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat who trusted voters for 30 years to elect her as a state representative, state senator, two-term lieutenant governor and two-term governor, did not vote.
Minner left Monday for Trinidad & Tobago, a Caribbean country of twin islands, as part of a National Guard program and was not scheduled to return until Friday. It meant she was not here for the primary, and according to Kent County election officials, she did not cast an absentee ballot from her home in Milford, where she is registered.
Minner's staff tracked her down to find out what happened. "It was an oversight. She says she doesn't recall ever not voting before," said Kate Bailey, the governor's communications director.
Minner had a lot of company. There were 393,139 or so Democrats and Republicans who sat this election out. (Independent and minor-party voters were not eligible to vote.) The Democratic turnout was 7 percent, and the Republican turnout was 8 percent.
Only a super-diligent 940 voters -- 516 Democrats and 424 Republicans -- went to the head of the civics class by voting absentee.
Minner had only one race to vote for -- the Democratic congressional contest that saw Dennis Spivack, the endorsed candidate, defeat Karen M. Harley-Nagle, a "fusion" candidate also running on the ticket of the Independent Party of Delaware, for the nomination against U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, a seven-term Republican.
Spivack won easily with 60 percent of the vote, but he could have used Minner's help in the 33rd Representative District, where she lives. He lost her election district by three votes.