Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Voter Turn-out

Celeste Katz of The Daily News reports here that in this week’s election, “the statewide voter turnout was about 39%, based on the unofficial results for the governor’s race: 4.1 million, based on the April registration total of 10.6 million voters. It was even lower in the city: Just 30% of its 4.1 million voters showed up.”

This is in line with a recent commentary by Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group here:
Why is it that just when New Yorkers get interested in elections, they often find out it's too late to register and vote? With everything else going on in their lives, voters are most likely to "tune in" to candidates' campaigns within weeks - not months - of Election Day.

However, New York requires that voters register at least 25 days before an election. In 2008 election, the Presidential debates had not ended by New York's registration deadline. This year the only governor's debate was on October 18th - 10 days after the voter registration deadline. So, just as some citizens become interested in an election and may wish to vote, they are prohibited from doing so due to New York's voter registration deadline.

Historically, New York has had one of the worst voter turnouts of any state in the nation. In the recent 2008presidential election, a paltry 50.8% of the voting age population turned out at the polls - one of the worst state turnouts. This turnout stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country. The national average voter turnout was 56.9% .

New York's voter registration deadline is not the only reason why its participation rate is so dismal, but it's a factor. According to a recent analysis, states with shorter registration deadlines tend to have higher voter turnouts than states with longer ones. And states that allow voters to register and then vote on Election Day tend to have the highest voter turnouts. In the 2008 election, states that allowed Election Day Registration (EDR) averaged 7% higher turnout than states without EDR.

This is an issue that deserves further study.

Labels: ,