Thursday, November 6, 2014

Voter turnout up in Arkansas in 2014, contrary to national trend

Posted By on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 7:24 AM

click to enlarge TURNOUT: Color coding shows percentage of turnout in each Arkansas county.
  • TURNOUT: Color coding shows percentage of turnout in each Arkansas county.

Nationwide, preliminary estimates indicate a decline in voter participation in this year's mid-term election against 2010, but that was not true in Arkansas.

Fivethirtyeight.com has a report on an estimate from an academic of a decline nationwide, using as a base all sttates with at least one statewide race. With some information out:

...enough data is in for Michael P. McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida, to make preliminary estimates of turnout. And what they show is a steep decline from recent national elections. McDonald estimates that just 36.6 percent of Americans eligible to vote did so for the highest office on their ballot. That’s down from 40.9 percent in the previous midterm elections, in 2010, and a steep falloff from 58 percent in 2012.

Arkansas is among a handful that beat the trend in the estimate, with an estimated increase of 3.7 percentage points in the percentage of registered voters participating.

I don't have a final figure on percentage participation in Arkansas. The secretary of state's website is reporting the turnout at 832,858, or better than 49 percent, but that figure is almost certainly inaccurate because the website also reports 859,614 votes cast in the race for U.S. Senate

In 2010, Arkansas turnout was 779,957, or 47.6 percent of registered voters, so the academic estate near 51 percent seems likely. In raw numbers, it meant a good 80,000 more votes. So somebody's turnout game worked. Judging by outcomes, you'd guess Republican, but I think a political identification change is more responsible for that than turnout efforts.

This link will take you to a searchable version of the map shown above. As I noted, figures have to be incomplete. The secretary of state's office, though saying 100 percent are reported, has a page that lists no provisional ballots outstanding. There are some, including in Garland County according to news reports on a tight mayor's race there, with controversial Mayor Ruth Carney holding a 22-vote lead. The provisional ballots could have arisen from the incorrect instructions from the secretary of state's office to require a form of ID from all voters who moved from one county to another. This ID requirement, by law, is only supposed to apply in rare cases, such as first-time voters or voters who didn't supply a full ID when they registered.

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