ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — We are now just over three weeks from the 2020 Presidential Election. However, voting has already started across the Stateline as voters are casting early votes and mail-in ballots ahead of November 3rd.
Historically, the presidential elections or higher profile elections bring out 20% more registered voters to the polls than the midterm elections.
Here in Illinois, in the past 8 years, the average presidential election brought in roughly 12 to 25% more voters compared to midterm elections. The biggest increased between the 2006 and 2008 elections with about 23% more people voting in the 2008 Presidential Election at nearly 64%.
“Presidential elections turn our voters by about 15-20 percent over midterm elections and then in Illinois when we have those odd-year elections for local offices, voter turnout can get really low in the 15% of eligible voters… the presidential elections see the greatest voter turnout for sure,” explained Northern Illinois University Political Science Professor Scot Schraufnagel.
Obviously with this year being a higher profile election year, we wanted to take a look at voter turnout on presidential elections county-by-county in our viewing area.
In 2016, Rock County and Winnebago County had the highest average voter turnout for registered voters with nearly 85% (Rock County) and 75% (Winnebago County).
Lee and Stephenson County had the lowest percentage of registered voter turnout for the 2016 Presidential Election at just over 68% and just 60% respectively.
Each county has seen a fluctuation in the percentage of voters casting ballots over the past several presidential elections.
“The constitutional amendment on the Illinois ballot this year… that can influence voter turnout. There are certain people that are mobilized by that. And then that can have what we call coat tails they may not be interested in a house race or a state senate race but they are voting because of that amendment and now they go ahead and vote for some of these other races and that is going to have an impact on who wins these races,” Professor Schraufnagel added.
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