Midterm Turnout Perspectives

Is midterm voting exciting?

We are in the midst of midterm primaries. It must be a busy time not only for the various candidates and political parties. It must also be a busy time for voters as they rush to the polls to participate in the voting process.

It reminds one of a July 4thparade with flags waving, people cheering, and politicians waving to the crowd. We celebrate our nation when we vote. It’s exciting—right?

In case you’re curious, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of the 2018 state primary election dates. Josh Keefe provides another midterm voting calendar breakdown in Newsweek. He reports on Primary Election Dates 2018: A Full State-by-State List. If you want even more detail, Politico offers Midterm Election Schedule 2018: Primary and Registration Dates.

Midterm voting in a divided nation

Of course, we must realize, presidential midterm years are not notorious for capturing much interest. Two years since the 2016 Presidential election and two years before the 2020 Presidential election loses some of the punch of those years.

However, this is not a typical midterm primary season. Our nation’s politics are woefully polarized as the Trump supporters line up on one side of the wall, er, political spectrum and Democrats on the other side.

052318 Moses Red Sea

If you want a visual, imagine Moses parting the Red Sea. There’s only dry land stretching out between. However, Scott Rasmussen of Investor’s Business Daily notes this year’s midterms are tight. Perhaps more stormy days are ahead.

Oregon’s midterm voting breaks records

Due to the current political upheaval, it’s well within reason to expect a crush of voters casting their votes during this voting season. Surely, this should be a banner year for voter turnout.

Some, in my home state of Oregon, are expressing that the midterm primary voter turnout broke records. They are pointing to the increase in numbers of voters casting ballots. It’s true. Unofficially, there were more than 132,800 Oregon votes this year than in 2014. If you’re hoping for a good turnout, this is good news!

Oregon’s Motor Voter law weighs in

Remember, though, that Oregon enjoys a new law, called the Oregon Motor Voter law, which automatically registers voters when they apply for a driver’s license. It’s a good idea as it forces citizens to opt out of the system to be registered if they don’t want to be. Previously, we had to opt in, meaning we had to register to vote even if we had a driver’s license. It was more work for all of us to do.

That means Oregon had over 550,000 voters added to the registration roll. Yes, Oregon had more voters this primary season but the voting percentage dropped from 35.9% to 33.45%.

Midterm voting requires some heroics

Are we gaining or are we fading in our voting participation?

I contend we are doing neither. No. A better description is that we fail the call to vote in the midterm primaries. Considering that only about a third of registered voters cast ballots in this season. It shows we are far too willing to stand on the sidelines.

Remember that parade I mentioned earlier? We treat voting like some kind of parade and we want to line up along the street and watch. Voting is not entertainment and it’s not a parade. We shirk our collective patriotic duty when all we can muster is a third of us caring enough to vote.

Last week I noted how nurses are heroes (See Nurses Exemplify Heroism For Politics) because their level of caring is unique. I further said we are also heroic whenever we vote. That sounds strange but given the voter turnout in mid-term primaries, it seems to prove my point.

Oregon is not unique in its struggle to muster a respectable voter turnout in mid-term primaries. Every state suffers this same challenge.

We shouldn’t be satisfied.

Presidential elections are worse than midterm elections

There’s an even worse picture than this! You think midterm primary elections are bad? Well, consider the years when we elect a president. That’s when everyone really gets excited. Those “parade watchers” break out of their habits and vote. In 2016, for example, over 69% of us voted. That’s around double what we see during midterm primaries.

What’s so bad with doubling the percentage? Because of the winner-takes-all malady (see A Cancer Is Attacking Our Presidential Elections) foisted upon our voting process, 46% of those votes cast did not count! That means, nationally, less than 30% of the votes cast meant anything. We can expect worse results for the presidential election in 2020 doing what we currently do.

We shouldn’t be satisfied.

Equal Voice Voting can make your vote count

This concern is precisely why Equal Voice Voting needs to be strongly considered. It removes the winner-takes-all aspect from the equation and allows every vote to count. Further, it means every state matters.

Share this information with those you know. We can fix this voting problem on a state-by-state basis. State legislators, too, need to consider how they can have every constituent’s vote count.

To ignore this problem and let it march by means you may not be really involved because your presidential ballot may not count.

Meanwhile, if you have a primary coming up in your state, VOTE! When the general election comes up in November, VOTE again!