Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trying to make sense of low voter turnout

The Casper Star-Tribune reported today that "unofficial primary results showed Nick Carter, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, held a small but sufficient lead over challenger Keith Goodenough, who conceded the race."

The Wyoming Secretary of State's web site shows Carter with 12,310 votes Tuesday to Goodenough's 12,006, a 304 vote lead. This margin is not enough for an automatic recount.

State Election Director Peggy Nighswonger said the difference needs to be less than one percent of the top vote getter in order to create an automatic recount. Goodenough needed to be less than 123 votes behind Carter for the counties to
sort back through the ballots.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Max Maxfield says that 47 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday's primary. The count was 104,635 ballots cast out of a total voter pool of 222,600 registered voters.

The Secretary of State's office lists 60,736 registered Dems. Only 24,316 cast votes in the Carter-Goodenough race, which means that 36,420 didn't. So, 60 percent of registered Dems stayed away during one of the most important primaries in one of the most important election years in my lifetime? If only 305 of them showed up and voted for Goodenough, we'd have a different match-up in November against Republican U.S. Sen. John Barrasso. Better? Probably not, since Carter brings a lot of verve and money to the general election. But a bigger turnout would have made the race more exciting and given the winner the momentum going into November.

You'd think that Democrats, charged up during this historic election year, would vote in higher numbers.

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