So Much for Vote Suppression: North Dakota Sets New Voting Record for Third Consecutive Election Cycle


Voters cast their ballots Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, at the Baymont Inn in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Based on preliminary numbers from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office, North Dakota has set a record for votes cast in a general election for the third consecutive election cycle.

Last night there were 349,891 ballots cast for 570,995 eligible voters for a turnout percentage of 61.11 percent.

That percentage is about on par with past general election cycles, but the vote total is a new record. The previous record was set during the 2012 general election where 325,862 ballots were cast, which in turn beat the previous record set in 2008 when 321,113 ballots were cast.

Meaning that 2016 didn’t just break the previous record, but shattered it by more than 24,000 votes.

This graph shows the vote turnout and vote totals for election cycles going back to 2000. You can see the vote data here.


Every election cycle Democrats gripe about voter suppression efforts. They blame Republicans for voter ID laws and other policies which supposedly inhibit turnout. But that seems to be so much partisan myth-making.

It sure doesn’t seem like there is a problem with North Dakotans turning out to vote based on these numbers. By national standards, North Dakota’s turnout percentage is actually quite high.

The growth in the number of ballots cast has a lot to do with our state’s overall population growth, but the turnout percentage has remained steady even as the state has passed changes to voting laws.

New people are coming to our state and casting ballots with few difficulties. That’s as it should be.