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About that voter turnout issue . . .

So the New York Times is running not one but two pieces today regarding voter turnout.  The first is an editorial: The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years and the second is about Colorado whipsaw gun politics:  Colorado Ousts Pro-Gun Republicans, Showing Effect of Turnout.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree with the editorial, and I’ll work through my thoughts later this evening or tomorrow morning.  For now, read the pieces and reflect.

Partial Answer to October 28 questions

Good afternoon folks,

It is quickly becoming obvious that posts will not appear strictly on Wednesdays, so check back often!

While the Secretary of State’s Office has not posted its data for the election last week (and who can blame them, as the results aren’t even certified yet) I can certainly tentatively answer a few of the questions I posed ten days ago:

1.  Does Sunday voting actually make a difference?  No, or at least not much.  According to the Secretary of State’s website, which lists the unofficial results for last week’s race as well as results and statistics on previous elections, voter turn-out in Georgia for last week’s election was an uninspiring 49.95%.  That’s right, less than half of registered voters bothered to show up.  And that doesn’t even address the people who are eligible to register to vote but haven’t.

While the stats for 2010 do not give a percentage of registered voters who voted, it does tell us how many people voted in the Senate and Governor’s races that year.  A total of 2,555, 258 voted in the Senate race and 2,576, 161 voted in the gubernatorial race.  Compare that to the unofficial count of 2,563,053 for Senator and 2,545,579 for Governor this year.  (At some point I’ll be able to add in fancy graphs!)  So approximately 8,000 more people voted for Senate and 30,000 fewer voted for Governor in 2014 as opposed to 2010.  In percentage terms, this is essentially flat. (One thing I’d like to know is how much money was spent per election . . . I’m thinking that each vote cost the PACs a lot more in 2014 than in 2010 . . .)

2.  What happens to minority turn-out in an off-year election with a lame duck President and intense battles over voter id throughout the country? Without the Secretary of State’s data, it is impossible to say for sure that minority turn-out was lower, but given the overall stats quoted above, and the fact that Republican candidates still beat the Democratic candidates handily, it is likely that minority turnout was, at best, flat compared to 2010.

3.  How does voter id affect voter turn-out vis-a-vis states like Oregon, which accepts only mail-in ballots?  This is a good question which we will save until the Secretary of State posts official results. Right now the unofficial results do not include provisional ballots, which are likely to be where photo id issues came most into play.

So whether you are elated or disappointed by Tuesday’s results, one take-away is that voter turnout still MATTERS, despite what all the pundits are saying.  For example, per the SOS unofficial results:

The turnout in Clayton, a heavily democratic, urban county, mirrored the state at 49.29%.  A little bit more than 65,000 voters stayed home.

By contrast, the county with the highest turnout was Fayette, at 61.09%.  Fayette is an Atlanta exurb which is developing quickly. Even so, over 27,000 registered voters let others decide their leadership for the next several years.

Until next time,

Ann