In the lead-up to the 2012 elections there was a lot of speculation about how much impact the state’s oil boom, which has brought with it a booming population, would have on voter turnout.
The answer after the 2012 election was “not much.” The answer after the 2014 election continues to be “not much.”
From 2010 to 2014 the voting-age population in North Dakota, according to the Secretary of State’s office, increased 8.38 percent (overall population increased 7.25 percent). Voter turnout, meanwhile, increased 5.53 percent in all counties.
Those increases don’t translate into a lot of new votes. Not even in the oil patch where some communities have seen their populations double. In from 2010 to 2014 oil patch counties saw an increase of 2003 votes. Non-oil counties saw just a 6,431 voter increase.
Remember that 2008 and 2012 were presidential election years which always draw out more voters than midterms. Comparing oil-patch counties to non-oil counties specifically, you can see there’s just not a lot of impact from the state’s population growth on the number of voters showing up to cast ballots.
I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the oil patch about why the oil boom seems to be having such a small impact on voting, and his answer was: “We’re all too busy to vote.”