Friday, March 27, 2015

Primary Issue: Just How Low Can Voter Turnout Go in New Jersey?

Primary Issue: Just How Low Can Voter Turnout Go in New Jersey?

Tuesday's primary, with congressional seats topping the ballot, drew the fewest voters in at least a decade, according to preliminary turnout data from New Jersey's county clerks.

So far, with a handful of voting precincts and mail-in ballots still to be counted in a few counties, it appears about 406,000 people voted. That's 7.6 percent of the total number registered, including those unaffiliated with the major parties who would have to declare as Democrat or Republican in order to vote in a primary. Very few do so.

Looking only at those with partisan registrations, the turnout numbers improve, though not by much. About 12.7 percent of registered Democrats, or 228,000, and 15.5 percent of Republicans, or 167,000, cast ballots for candidates for the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and local offices.

Those figures are even lower than in 2006, when the turnout was 8.4 percent of all registered voters, 19.2 percent of Democrats and 21.3 percent of Republicans. Like this year, a U.S. Senate seat and House seats were atop the ticket. And they are significantly lower than in either 2012 or 2008 when presidential candidates were on the ballot. In 2008, about 11.5 percent of all those registered went to the polls, and in the prior presidential election two years ago, the overall turnout was 11.2 percent.

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