Four of Upstate New York's big cities had primary elections for the office of mayor on Tuesday and turnout was relatively low across the board.

But in Syracuse, it was historically low, with roughly 13% of registered voters among Democrats and Republicans casting their ballots during early and primary night voting. That does not include absentee ballots still to be counted.

"Historically, we have seen mayoral primaries be anywhere from 19-24% over the last four cycles, so obviously it's very low, said Dustin Czarny, Onondaga County Democratic elections commissioner.

In Albany, about 17% of registered Democrats voted in the mayoral primary. Numbers were a little higher in both Buffalo and Rochester, at 20% and 25% of Democrats, respectively.

University at Buffalo political scientist Jacob Neiheisel says the downward trend of voter participation in primaries has been happening for years now.

"It used to be the old Tip O'Neill quote where 'all politics is local,' and I think that's being reversed in some ways. All politics are becoming national," Neiheisel said. "And at the same time we're seeing an uptick in turnout for federal races, you're seeing plummeting turnout for local races, in particular local primaries."

So why is voter turnout so low in these races? For one, there were no high-profile national or statewide races to draw people to the polls.

"If you think about the policies that touch us on a daily basis, the vast majority of them are local policies that we're dealing with," Neiheisel said. "There's this perverse relationship between where people's attentions are focused versus what actually affects them on a day-to-day basis."

Neheisel says a lack of media coverage in some places is also a concern. He also points to the timing of local elections.

"It's on an off-off-year. We should move this to when there's a presidential race," he said. "We should move this to when there's something else going on at the state level, so that's a big problem that could readily be solved."

"Your vote may determine not just who wins the primary, but who wins the general election, especially if they don't have any major party opposition in November, like we've seen in the Buffalo mayor and the Rochester mayor," Czarny said.