Election 2012: California Turnout Looks Considerably Lower Than 2008

Early reports from the California Secretary of State's office seem to indicate voter turnout was lower on Tuesday than it was in the 2008 general election.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the number stood at 52.3 percent of registered voters, far below the 79.4 percent who turned out in 2008 to elect Barack Obama to his first term in office (see the chart below). That's despite a record high number of registered voters reported by the Secretary of State's office late last week.

California Voter Turnout in General Elections, 1910-2010
Source: California Secretary of State
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Still, it's too soon to draw any final conclusions from these numbers. More Californians opted to vote by mail this year than ever before -- nearly two-thirds in the June primary, a state record. Likely hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, not to mention those that are damaged or that were cast provisionally (that is, somewhere other than a person's designated polling place). That means the turnout could inch higher over the coming weeks.

A report on the number of unprocessed ballots is due Thursday. That report should make it a little easier to gauge the real voter turnout and, for that matter, which races are still too close to call. But because counties report those numbers voluntarily, nothing is absolutely certain until the election is certified by the Secretary of State, which could be as late as Dec. 14.

The photo associated with this post was used courtesy of Flickr user elleinad. under a Creative Commons License.

About the Author

Web Editor for SoCal Connected, KCET's award-winning television newsmagazine. He has worked in just about every medium, with stories appearing on TV, radio, Web, and print. He is also the editor of the Online Journalism Review at ...
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