A lesson learned about voter turnout numbers from this election: Don’t believe the hype from early voting.

Based on voter turnout stats from this year’s eight-day early voting period, state election board officials were projecting the share of Marylanders voting this year might top 80 percent. After all, more than a fifth of voters showed up during the early voting period, which set a new state record.

However, we didn’t even come close in the end. Preliminarily, it looks like 66 percent of voters showed up at the polls for this year’s election, Maryland Board of Elections administrator Linda Lamone said Thursday. The mark is considerably lower than in past recent presidential elections. Since 2000, at least 75 percent of the state’s eligible voters have registered and voted on Election Day.

Here are the voter turnout percentages from the past nine presidential elections:

1984: 75%
1988: 76%
1992: 81%
1996: 70%
2000: 75%
2004: 78%
2008: 78%
2012: 74%
2016: 66%*

*Preliminary data

The Maryland Board of Elections doesn’t have numbers available online from election years prior to 1984. Even so, this data paints a good recent picture. Maybe the divisive rhetoric and swell of animosity between the two parties’ candidates and supporters didn’t encourage voters to participate this year. Who knows?

Granted, we’re still awaiting the official results, as well as a private audit to confirm them. Maybe the state will save some face for its low turnout numbers in the end.


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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...

One reply on “Maryland Records Lowest Voter Turnout Mark in At Least Three Decades”

  1. If early voting doesn’t encourage more overall voting, perhaps we should return to same day voting, with certain exceptions of course. Everyone voting on the same day could create a greater sense of civic community, and everyone would have the same information going into the ballot box. For instance, what about folks who voted after the Comey announcement but before the exonerating announcement? Or what if something truly game changing happens on the day before election day but you already cast your vote?

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