Dependable Erection

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Municipal primary - some other numbers

Kevin, once again, has a pretty good analysis of yesterday's election results, focusing on the geographic distribution of votes, and which candidate is strong where.

I want to take a look at some different numbers, distributed over time rather than place. Durham County Board of elections has turnout numbers going back to 1994 online. (Earlier election results are archived in PDF format here.)

Here are the numbers for the last seven municipal primary elections:
Year Races contested # eligible # voting % turnout
===== =============== ========== ======== ========
10/10/95 Mayor, City Council 92,26 14,272 15.4%
10/7/97 Mayor, City Council 115,326 15,843 13.0%
10/5/99 Mayor, City Council 124,740 20,400 16.0%
10/9/01 Mayor, City Council 127,858 15,387 12.03%
10/7/03 Mayor, City Council 104,384 16,993 16.28%
10/11/05 Mayor, City Council 118,376 13,103 11.06%
10/9/07 City Council 121,026 12,740 10.53

(Apologies for any formatting issues with the numbers, i think they're readable.) There are a lot of ways to spin those numbers, and i'm not going to try to deal with any of them. I think the downward trend in turnout, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of registered voters speaks for itself. Other key figures in the BoE's numbers:

The number of registered voters peaked at around 164,000 for the 2000 general election. The highest turnout, both in actual numbers and as a percentage of the electorate, came in the 2004 general election with 73% of nearly 153,000 registered voters turning out (111,685 to be precise.)

The general trend in municpal elections has been a slight (1997, 1999, 2005) to significant (2001, 2003) increase in the number of eligible voters between the primary and general elections, accompanied by a significant increase in turnout. Turnout doubled in 97, 01, and 03, and increased by 60% or greater in all other years.

North Carolina now has a modified form of same-day voter registration in effect. the details, as posted on the BoE website:
A North Carolina resident who is qualified to vote but who misses the 25-day deadline for voter registration may register and vote at a One-Stop Site during the One-Stop Absentee Voting period. The One-Stop Voting period extends from 19 to 3 days before Election Day.

The process is sometimes referred to as "Same-Day Registration," but it is important to recognize that it not permitted on Election Day itself.

To use this process, a citizen must:

(1) go to a One-Stop Voting Site in the county of residence during the One Stop Absentee Voting period.
(2) fill out a voter registration application.
(3) provide proof of residency by showing the elections official an appropriate form of identification with the citizen’s current name and current address. The new registrant may vote ONLY at a One-Stop Absentee Voting Site in the county of registration during One-Stop Absentee Voting period and not on Election Day.

So, residents who are eligible to vote, but not yet registered, may still vote in the upcoming general election, but only at the BoE offices on West Corporation St., near the old ballpark, and only up to the Friday before Election Day proper. We'll see if this noew process increased either registration or turnout for the general.

I think the most important knowledge to be gleaned from this is that there are a lot of votes on the table between now and November. No candidate should take their position for granted, and individuals or organizations with strong interest in seeing their candidate elected need to take the necessary steps to see that happen. I can't imagine Durham electing one, let alone two or three Republicans to the City Council and/or the Mayor's office, but stranger things have happened.

Let's see if any of the PACs modify their endorsements in light of yesterday's results (especially the Durham Committee, which now only is backing a single candidate for the 3 Council seats), and which groups are best able to get out the vote in an election year that strangely seems to be inspiring complacency.

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  • Can't imagine Republicans getting elected? Ahem...

    Howard Clement
    Thomas Stith
    John Best

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 5:03 PM  

  • i don't think Clement and Stith played up their Republican credentials. Best was a one-term fluke.

    Maybe i should have said, "i don't anticipate Durham electing a Republican to the City Council from the current crop of candidates, given today's electoral climate."

    On the other hand, my kids are constantly telling me i have no imagination.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 8:17 PM  

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