Campaigns can affect turnout |

Campaigns can affect turnout

Meneley Elementary school students laugh as spray from a fire hose cools them off during the school's annual walk-a-thon last week.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Pity poor Pat Hickey, who despite the backlash, did share a measure of truth about the nature of elections in an interview on a conservative radio station last week.

Hickey said “A lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a nonpresidential year,” a statement Democrats used to beat him over the head.

We’re not going to try to characterize the voters from one election to another, but it’s a fact that off-presidential elections see smaller turnouts.

Lots of folks, who vote every four years in the presidential races, are nowhere to be found during mid-term elections.

That essentially means that we have very different electorates turning out every two years.

The turnout is worse for primary elections, where Douglas County posted a 33 percent turnout in 2012. Only 8,122 of the county’s 25,678 registered voters cast a ballot. Turnout was worse among Democrats and independents.

Harry Reid was on the general election ballot in 2010, which should have brought voters out of the woodwork. But the turnout for the general election was only 76.37 percent. The 2006 mid-term election saw a turnout of 71.5 percent.

With one of the older demographics in the state, Douglas County often sees some of the best turnouts, even in bad years. But that doesn’t exempt us.

We know that turnout is a function of the excitement generated by an election, and that presidential years often generate their own weather.

An interesting campaign could prompt an increase in voter turnout, but it would have to be a heck of a fight to bump up turnout figures.