When you think of the 2016 election cycle in North Dakota the term “high turnout” doesn’t come to mind. There really aren’t any competitive races on the statewide ballot, as evidenced by the dearth of campaign signs on the ground in our neighborhood.
I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but up here in I’ve seen more campaign signs for judicial candidates than any of the partisan elections on the ballot, including the presidency. Plus, post-oil boom, North Dakota has seen a lot of people leave the state.
Yet despite that, the Associated Press reports today that the state may be on track to break an early vote turnout record.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]This is probably more a reflection of a shift in voting methods than any indication of what turnout will ultimately be.[/mks_pullquote]
“North Dakota residents are on pace to break a record for early voting for the third straight presidential election,” the AP reports. “Almost 122,000 people already had voted by Monday morning and before Election Day polling locations were to open Tuesday.”
About 130,000 people voted early in the 2012 presidential election, which broke the previous early voting record set in 2008 by about 10,000 votes.
You can follow the live early voting totals right here. As I write this there have been 124,626 early and absentee ballots cast. To put that into perspective, there were over 325,000 ballots cast in 2012.
This is probably more a reflection of a shift in voting methods than any indication of what turnout will ultimately be. For instance, while early voting increased by about 10,000 ballots from 2008 to 2012, the overall turnout increased only by 4,729 ballots.
The number of people voting early increased significantly more than the number of people voting overall.
I think the 2016 turnout will be about in that same ballpark, but more and more North Dakotans are taking advantage of opportunities to vote before election day. Which means, increasingly, that last minute advertising and campaign pitches will, increasingly, have a diminished impact on election day outcomes.
Personally, I still like to vote on election day. Polling locations in Minot usually aren’t too crowded, and I enjoy the experience of going in and casting a ballot in person on election day.