Oregon voter turnout: not really all that great


A multi-university study has concluded that voting in Oregon is easier than anywhere else in the U.S.

But despite Oregon’s efforts, the fact is voter turnout isn’t all that great.

In the just concluded 2018 midterm elections, 1,99,142 Oregonians voted. That was just 61 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population.

The voting-eligible population includes all persons eligible to vote regardless of voter registration status. The voting-age population is all persons over the age of 18, including persons who are ineligible to vote, such as non-citizens, felons (depending on state law), and mentally incapacitated persons. Registered voters are persons who have recorded their name in the voting register and are entitled legally to cast a vote.

When talking about election turnout, state officials and politicians are usually referring to the percent of registered voters who vote so the number looks better.

In the just concluded 2018 midterm elections, for example, registered voters totaled 2,762,622 and, as noted earlier, 1,902,953 ballots were turned in as of Nov. 8, 2018, according to the Secretary of State’s online election report. The Secretary of State reported that this translated into 68.88 percent turnout.

This number is deceptive, however, because a lot of Oregonians in the voting-age population haven’t registered. If the number for Oregon’s total voting-eligible population, 3,113,178, is used instead, then, as noted previously, the turnout was 61 percent. That’s not bad, but it’s disappointing because it means four of every ten voting-eligible Oregonians skipped voting.

Still, that’s far better than the 49.2 percent turnout for the U.S. as a whole, less than half of those eligible after $5.2 billion in political spending.

And it is certainly better than the historic national rate. In fact, the last time more people turned out for a midterm election was in 1914, when 50.4 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.Midterm turnout was at its highest level in 104 years, according to an analysis first obtained by Axios. A little more than 49 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2018 elections. The last time more people turned out in a midterm was in 1914, which was when 50.4 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The following table, using data from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division and the United States Election Project, shows Oregon’s voting-eligible population and actual voters in other recent general elections:

Year    Voting-eligible pop.   No. of voters      Percent      

2016          3,024,174                     2,051,452           61.7

2014          2,887,517                     1,541,782            50.9

2012          2,836,101                     1,820,507            63.1

2010          2,760, 607                     1,487,210           53.9

2008          2,700,327                      1,845,251            68.3

2006          2,628,937                      1,399,650            53.2

2004         2,550,887                      1,851,671             72.6

2002          2,495,730                        1,293,756          51.8

2000          2,364,402                        1,559,215          65.9




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