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Only 17% of Chattanooga's registered voters will decide next mayor, city council members

An empty parking lot and empty chairs inside the Hamilton County Election Commission are not what you'd expect to find in a city filled with campaign signs.

Only 17% of registered voters are expected to cast their ballots in the Chattanooga city election on March 7th, according to Election Commission Administrator, Kerry Steelman.

The Election Commission says that's four times less than the General Election's turnout in November.

"They're just tired of being asked to go to the polls, yet again," says Dr. Amanda Wintersieck, a political science professor at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

That phenomenon has a name: voter fatigue.

"When we continually ask voters to go to the polls, to make decisions, sometimes those decisions can be complicated with lack of information, so they choose not to go," says Wintersieck.

The Election Commission says though the turnout is low, it is still on track with turnout in 2009 and 2013.

Dr. Wintersieck says a solution is changing the election date, but that could cut the term short for officials in office.

"Americans are asked to make a lot of decisions. Not only are we asked to vote in the presidential elections, two years later, the midterms, but now we add the wonky off-cycle local election."

Only a handful of voters showed up at the Election Commission while we were there Thursday afternoon.

Judy Bailey and her husband, Frank, were among them.

"We want to do everything we can do to make our country better for all our fellow citizens," says Judy.

She says the mayoral race is just as important as the race to the White House.

"Every person registered to vote and physically able to vote should be voting."

Wintersieck says young people may be discouraged from voting because they aren't sure what happens inside a polling precinct.

She encourages parents to bring their children to the polls to explain the importance of voting.

The Election Commission tallies the number of early votes each day. Wednesday, more than 3260 people cast their ballots.

For more information on voting how-to's, click here and here.

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