With all the talk of anemic turnout by state Elections Director John Lindback, it has come to the attention of the Boundary that many sources claim low turnout in this election without citing similar elections in the past. Luckily, that same elections division keeps a detailed record of past elections, including cross-sections of voter turnout, all available on their website.
According to the elections division, here’s the overall turnout for the special elections of this decade:
September 2002: 44%
January 2003: 66.9%
September 2003: 35.4%
February 2004: 63.1%
Now, that’s the final count of voters measured against the voter rolls when the election’s all over and the lights have dimmed in county offices across the state. Here’s a closer look at turnout with a snapshot the day before each election, with the overall turnout and last-day composition of that vote in parentheses:
September 2002: 33% (44%/10%)
January 2003: 57% (66.9%/9.9%)
September 2003: 29% (35.4%/6.4%)
February 2004: 53% (63%/10%)
So, with the exception of September 2003, one can expect the turnout in a special election to jump 10% on the day of the deadline for ballots. But because the elections division has not released the number of ballots received today, Monday November 5, it’s necessary to look at the turnout two days previous:
September 2002: 29% (44%/15%)
January 2003: 53% (66%/13%)
September 2003: 26% (35.4%/9.4%)
February 2004: 48% (63%/15%)
As of Nov. 2, the last count available, the Secretary of State is reporting that 38% of ballots have been accounted for by an elections office. With an intervening weekend, it could mean that the data for ballots received on Nov. 5 will be a healthy 5% of total turnout, just like the February 2004 trajectory. That would put it well on its way to a 50% turnout, which would be right in the middle of the turnouts for past special elections.
If the number is 3% or under like in Sept. 2003, then turnout probably won’t make it to 50%, as the last-day turnout may not get to that normal 10% last-day burst.