Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Myth of the Big Election Turnout

Tuesday night at Election Central as the stories of people being turned away from the polls were told, people were also talking about 'the big turnout.'

That didn't explain, for me, how that would have affected things.  After all, they are required, as I pointed out in the previous post, to have enough ballots to take care of a 70% turnout.  Normal turnouts for Municipal elections range from low 20% range to the mid 30% range.  The numbers on the election results from last night show turnout at 26.82%.
Registered Voters 204838 - Cards Cast 54946 26.82%
Num. Report Precinct 121 - Num. Reporting 118 97.52%
 So, they had 54,946 people vote.  70% of registered voters (204,838) would have been 143,386 ballots.  If they had that many ballots ready, even if 20,000 unregistered voters showed up, that shouldn't have put any strain on their supply of ballots.  But people kept talking about high turnout.

The Anchorage Daily News has a story titled "Voter turnout creates ballot shortage" and quotes Municipal Clerk, Barbara Gruenstein:
"An "unprecedented number of voters" caused the shortage, she said."
 The Clerk is a sharp lady so maybe I'm missing something, but here are the voter turnouts as I could figure them for the last Municipal elections going back to 2006.  I got the numbers for the past election years from the Municipal Clerk's Website:  Election History/Past Election Results.  I got this year's numbers from this year's election results page

# of Voters % of Registered V's
2006 Mayoral 70,859 35.18%
2007 Assembly 62,071 32.13%
2008 Assembly 46,850 23.36%
2009 Mayoral 58,714 29.92%
2010 Assembly 39,096 19.42%
2011 Assembly 45,200 22.9%
2012 Mayoral 54,946 26.82%
[UPDATE April 23:  The total number of ballots listed in the April 20, 2012 Election Summary Report is 71,099.  That comes out to 240 more votes than the 2006 election.  So this was a 'big' turn out by Municipal election standards, but only barely higher than the second highest count two mayoral elections back.]

 The numbers are as of 11:48 pm Tuesday night, 118 out of 121 precincts reporting.
Even if 10,000 more votes were outstanding, this year's total would not be a record in either total number or percentage of voters.  Is there something I'm missing? 

As it stands, the turnout is less than the previous two mayoral elections.

What makes more sense, if lots of unregistered folks showed up, was that they ran out of questioned ballots.  There were stories of people crossing out the Sample on the Sample ballots and using them.  But there should still have been a lot of back up regular ballots. 

1 comment:

  1. You know, Steve, this is beginning to have all the makings of one damn good civil rights documentary. What's been going on in Anchorage since 1975 with lesbian and gay Alaskans (with bisexual and transgender, of course) is getting right up there with the landmark civil rights struggles of the past.

    Throw in marriage equality courtroom drama, constitutional amendments, election mayhem, god, mega churches and insular political machines, it's pretty good stuff.

    Now, who in the film making world would like to start thinking about it?


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