Monday, I blogged on voter turnout and hoped it would be impressively high this election. I hoped for that because I want to see Americans exercise their right to vote. My Puerto Rican relatives living on the island, as American citizens, can vote in presidential primaries. However, because Puerto Rico is not a state nor do its citizens pay federal income tax, Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote in presidential general elections. Many people argue over the fairness of that, but that’s not the point of this post. My point is that Americans who can vote, should.
Initial vote tallies are coming in, and they show numbers actually went down. The American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate used vote tallies from the Associated Press to come up with some initial data. It isn’t complete because there are still votes to be tallied — in some heavily populated states — but it gives an idea.
The examiners say about 61 percent of voting-age Americans actually voted Tuesday. The Census Bureau put it at 64 percent for 2004. Back to the AUC study, Minnesota scored the highest turnout with 75.9 percent of the voting-age population casting ballots, down from 76.8 percent four years ago. Wisconsin, my home state, came in second but also had declines, at 70.9 percent this year compared to 73.8 percent in 2004.
I’m always saddened when I see fewer people taking part in the political process, but I try to look on the bright side, too. Local elections can have turnout in the single digits, so anything over 50 percent should be celebrated. It shows at least half the population cares how this whole thing turns out.