Voter Turnout

How was voter turnout in your state for mid term elections?

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Feeling patriotic. Just returned from a visit to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.

Oregon’s was darn good.  69.5 per cent. Not everything went the way Scribbler deigned it should, locally or nationally, but I’m a patient woman.

In most states, turnout was low.

What’s Oregon’s secret?

Exciting ballot measures. $8 million was spent to support a measure requiring that GMO foods be labeled, much of it from out of state. $20 million was spent in opposition to the measure, most of it from out of state.  Yay Citizens’ United. We were buried in hyperbolic ads and flyers.

Also on the ballot: a top two (as opposed to party system) voting initiative.

And, a measure to legalize marijuana …

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Photo source: New England Journal of Cannabis

Voting in Oregon, which is by mail, is easy and encouraged. Does it help? Maybe some. Washington, however, also votes by mail and turnout there was down.

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Voters who don’t mail in time, drop ballots off at special boxes. Photo source: Lincoln County Voter Info.

How do we compare to other countries?

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Image source: NPR, Diane Rehm Show

In national elections we flounder somewhere around 60th.

How do other countries do it? Some hold all elections, national and local on one day. Some impose a fine on people who don’t vote (Uruguay and Singapore), or automatically register everyone to vote (France and Sweden). None of those happening here anytime soon.

What do you think about voting by mail? Is there controversy about voting and voting rights in your state? Should we do more to encourage voting? If so, what?

25 comments

  • Hi Julia,

    Voter apathy, particularly in non-Presidential years, always confounds me. It’s as if people believe that only presidential elections have consequences. After elections, I like to visit my county website to compare turnouts to previous years. The number of voters for the top of the ticket over the last four general elections look like this:
    2014 34,088
    2012 62,932
    2010 39,216
    2008 68,443

    In PA, we unseated the governor, so that was good, but my party didn’t fare well aside from that result. Oh well, there’s always next time.

    Like

    • Another voting nerd, I mean scholar. I look up returns, too. Yes, voter apathy confounds me too, especially in mid terms, where everything you vote on counts, straight up. Just a few more votes, and we would have been among the first to require GMO labeling. Have mixed feelings about the electoral college which allows election of candidates who lose the popular vote. Glad you are happy with your new governor-to-be, and yes, there is a next time.

      Like

  • I’m not sure what Ohio’s turnout was. I don’t have a problem with voting by mail. I think anything that makes it more convenient for people is good (as long as confidentiality and no fraud can be assured). I look forward to online voting someday.

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    • There have been several studies to check for voter fraud in Oregon. Virtually none found. Should put fears to rest, but maybe it’s good that the pressure is on to keep elections really, really clean.

      Thought it would be sad to no longer go to the polls, but it’s great. Sit at the kitchen table with the newspapers, League of Women Voter summaries, notes, take my time. Once I forgot to sign the back of the envelope, which would make my vote invalid. The envelope came right back from the Secretary of State’s office with a note reminding me to add my Julia Hancock.

      Hopefully Ohio will join the ranks.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Has the whole world slept through the elections.
    We had local voting in Canada and in my city only 34% of the voters turned out. Seems they’re not complaining about having to go to a polling station. It’s party platform and they don’t like what / who’s on offer. 😦

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  • Lot’s of good questions you raise! I am still trying to recover from the results in my state (MA)! People who do not vote really have no right to complain. Sigh. 🙂

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    • Maybe not. It’s worked well for us. Fun to sit down with a ballot at the kitchen table and look up anything you want to.

      But again, high turnout is probably more tied to the issues. We have all these energetic souls putting contentious initiative petitions on our ballots. People get pretty het’ up.

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  • Voting in my house was a bigger deal than Christmas and I am happy to report that tradition lives on in my house. My son voted for the first time, but refused my plea for a photo opt. Voting is a PRIVILEGE not a RIGHT. So to all the flag waving, yellow ribbon magnet folks out there who DO NOT VOTE, please shut-up. Real patriots VOTE!

    Sadly I don’t think the mail-in voting would be a success, people are too lazy. Maybe if they could “like” voting on FaceBook or Tweet about it they would have a bigger success.

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  • 57% of your deep red neighbors to the east turned out to vote. Of course the R’s here in Idaho have even more of a lock on state wide races than do the D’s in Oregon. Seeing as how the GMO initiative failed in Oregon you can no doubt look forward to soon be eating the GM potato that the fine folks at Simplot just came out with. Just ask “can I get GMO fries with that” next time you’re at McD’s.

    Idaho is soooo red. If it has a pulse and and “R” next to it there will be no contest. The R running for State School Superintendent was a terrible candidate: plagiarized her opponent’s web site, lied about her qualifications and many other things from her past, had only voted twice in the past 15 years since coming to the state, and on and on. She was so bad that someting like 50,000 (likely Republican) voters did not cast a vote for that office. They could not bear to vote for her, but neither could they vote for a D.

    Yes to vote by mail. I miss it. I just go with absentee ballot here in Idaho so I can do it from home.

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  • Feel for you on the school superintendent. Nothing worse than having the schools run by a fraud.

    Yes the labeling law went down, but grocers manufacturers and chem companies spent TWENTY MILLION, and almost lost. They are in trouble and they know it. Labeling is small potatoes, ahem, anyway. GMO free zones are the gold ring. I support experimenting with growing better food, more efficiently, faster — but there is this gloss over the fact that this is still an experiment and we, especially poor people who can mostly afford the food in the middle aisles, are the guinea pigs. We know for certain that soil fertility is declining, soil moisture retention declining, carbon retention in soil declining, and buildup of herbicides and pesticides is growing. That in and of itself should be incentive enough to put on the brakes.

    GMO labeling went down, but Merkley, Kitzhaber and DeFazio won handily, and of course, marijuana legalized. All in all, a blue election for Oregon.

    Mail in ballots are the way to go. Pretty hard to prevent people from voting in mail in states.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully the excitement will return. A marijuana legalization measure would do it. Does the whole state of Arkansas vote by mail?

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      • Most of Arkansas goes to the polls. This is the first year Tom and I voted via mail and it’s really not the convenient in Arkansas. Each year you must go to the court house to apply for the upcoming year if you want to apply for ‘vote by mail.’ Then it’s highly restricted as to who meets the qualifications. Our request was based solely on health reasons. I didn’t think to get an absentee ballet in 2012 and was in so much pain from a surgery I couldn’t get to the polls and Tom was afraid to leave me alone. With the number of serious health issues Tom has had this past year, we decided to play it safe and do the mail in ballots.
        Of course working in government for so many years, I’m voted via mail more times than ending up at the polls. My home of record was always someplace other that where we lived. I don’t have a breakdown of how many in Arkansas vote by mail, how many vote early (many of our friends do) and how many simply don’t show up. I do have an opinion in that when I graduated high school I felt I was highly informed about the issues at hand and the actions political opponents were campaigning on. I would have been the most informed voter of all time had I been able to vote at age 15!
        Marijuana was on our ticket in 2012. It was defeated 51-49. Alcohol was on this ballot. We had a great turnout for the marijuana but not so much on the alcohol as it didn’t have the younger crowd pushing for it.
        I think Marijuana will appear on our 2016 election.

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        • Perhaps states should administer qualification tests to fifteen year olds who are ready to vote. Most 15-year-olds’ brains probably work a lot better than mine.

          Does sound like there are a lot of hurdles to voting by mail in Arkansas. It’s amazing that we passed the law allowing it here, and that it’s working so well.

          Your first point is well taken. Voters have to feel like it’s going to make a difference, or they won’t vote no matter what the process.

          Here in Oregon, it wasn’t just young people pushing for marijuana legalization. Plenty of grizzled grayhairs as well, some who’ve spent years working on it. Marijuana is just too easy to grow around here. Pretty hard to tamp it down with laws.

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        • Many of us with chronic pain issues and others dealing with the excruciating pain of many cancers are far more interested in seeing marijuana legalization than anything to do with alcohol. We all know, if you want alcohol, it’s easy to find. It’s crazy the way our county shoots itself in the foot. From the tax revenue we provide counties on both sides of us, we could have those tax monies here in our own county. Somethings make absolutely no sense to me. I’ve lived in countries that were on the edge of being classified as disasters economically and the citizens still enjoyed their wine with dinner and I never met anyone that neglected their family and on and on!

          Liked by 1 person

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