Updated: Jul 21
Voter apathy runs rampant in many mid-term elections and lower voter turnout is the result.
Lower profile races, indifference towards current political climates, and the feeling of a worthless vote contribute to voters ignoring the polls. An endless list of polarizing issues is breaking this trend for 2022 and analysts are predicting record mid-term voter turnout in the coming week.
Western states are no different this election cycle. Western voters participated at a remarkable rate in earlier primary elections and are expected to continue the high participation next week.
In May, Idaho voters continued their recent trend of higher turnout for midterm elections. Before 2018, the last turnout about 30% was in 1994. More than 32% of registered voters cast their ballot in the latest primary. Surprisingly, a few rural counties crossed the 50% threshold, conversely counties home to universities experienced the lowest turnouts. With the quick growth Idaho has seen in the last four years, Idaho’s registered voters have increased by 18%. A jump which could dramatically change the political landscape in coming years.
The remainder of the western states saw a diversity of trends. Neighboring Montana voters turned out at an even higher rate of 39.40%, but this is the lowest rate Montana has seen since 2016. Washington state returns were even higher at 41%, with the area outside of the Puget Sound seeing an uptick in voters versus 2018.[iii] Wyoming also saw an increase in voter turnout, which was up from recent years.
Disparities in voter turnout are atypical in the current political climate. Clear historical divides like the rural/urban gap are no longer predictable. Some states are seeing higher voter turnout in rural regions, as is the case in Oregon and Idaho. Other states are following historical precedence, like New York’s lower rural turnout in a recent special election, signaling potential apathy among conservative districts.
Social media hashtags are even getting in on the action, to signal to all demographics the need for active voters. Friends tweeting, posting, and hashtagging their experience during elections, may have brought record turnout during 2020. A personal favorite is the #ifarmivote campaign, motivating many farming friends to share their reason for voting and encouraging others to do the same.
All voters in the Western states need to get out and vote. It is your right, and responsibility.