Candidates try to generate excitement in closing hours of election

What if they gave an election and nobody came?

The 2012 Primary Election headed into its final hours with every indication that most voters were going to skip it - maybe even a large majority of them.

Multnomah County elections officials reported that just over 24 percent of voters had returned their ballots by Tuesday morning. Oregon election officials were reporting about 28 percent, and Secretary of State Kate Brown the final percent would be in the low 40s.

Meanwhile, workers in the two most contested City Council races were busy trying to generate excitement for their candidates during the morning rush hours. Volunteers were posted along several major roads into downtown Portland waving signs and hold banners for the three major mayoral candidates - businesswoman Eileen Brady, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales and State Rep. Jefferson Smith - and for City Commissioner Amada Fritz and her leading opponent, State Rep. Mary Nolan.

Updated campaign spending reports show the primary election mayor's race will likely be the most expensive in Portland history. By Tuesday morning, Brady had reported raising over $1.15 million in cash and in-kind contributions, compared to over $773,000 for Hales and more than $582,000 for Smith.

In the City Council Position 1 race, Nolan reported raising over $317,000 compared to more than $225,000 for Nolan.

Election observers blame the low voting rate in part on the lack of any high-profile national or statewide races.

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