Monday, December 5, 2011

Election turnout up, but still low in off-year

The Washington Secretary of State reported this week that “turnout” in the Nov. 8 election came in at just under 53 percent of all registered voters (the SOS puts “turnout” in quotation marks because the election was conducted entirely by mail, a process designed in part to encourage voting).

That rate of participation was 6 percentage points higher than Secretary of State Sam Reed predicted – but it’s still, of course, barely more than half of all registered voters. And when the 1.94 million ballots cast are compared to the state’s total voting-age (18 and over)  population of 5.14 million, the participation rate drops to about 40 percent.*

Off-year elections without races for president or governor, like the one Nov. 8, yield relatively low participation rates. In the last presidential election, in 2008, turnout reached close to 85 percent – although, again, the percentage of participation among the voting-age population would be considerably lower.

*Those numbers yield a rate of under 38 percent, but the Census figures for the 18-and-over population include non-citizens not eligible to vote, so the turnout of the eligible voting-age population would be somewhat above that percentage.

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.