With 90 percent of votes counted, voter turnout in 2012 appears to have taken a dip from 2008, according to an Associated Press report.
Turnout also appears to be down in most states compared to the 2004 election as well, the report said.
Reid Magney, spokesperson for the Government Accountability Board, said the GAB cannot officially release any election data for the state for several weeks, as some votes are still being counted. However, The Associated Press reported last week about 70 percent of the state’s 4.3 million eligible voters went to the polls.
That would top 2008, in which 69 percent of those eligible voted, according to the AP, while 73 percent voted in 2004.
Jay Heck, director of Common Cause Wisconsin, said several factors may have prevented voters from reaching the polls.
Besides the cold and rainy weather on Election Day, Heck also brought up confusion over voter eligibility as a probable cause to decreased turnout, especially in Wisconsin, but still called the turnout “impressive.”
“There was confusion over eligibility to vote with regard to voter photo ID laws, which were not in effect in Wisconsin, but residency requirements as well as early voting in Wisconsin being for a shorter period and not available the Monday before election were factors,” Heck said.
Heck also noted the negativity in both the presidential and senatorial campaigns may have had the effect of turning potential voters off. He said there was an “unquestionably expensive and unrelentingly negative campaign,” especially in Wisconsin.
Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said voter turnout in the 2012 election was, generally speaking, high overall.
He attributed this to the fact there is increased interest in presidential elections. McCabe said voter turnout is generally higher in presidential elections than in other elections.
McCabe also said voters were faced with many obstacles in voting in this election.
“Voter turnout was very high overall considering how much voters had to overlook, such as stomach-churning ads, gutter politics and voter suppression laws,” McCabe said. “People had to overcome barriers in many states across the country.”
Wisconsin has traditionally been known as a battleground state in presidential elections, and the competitive nature of voting in this state may have encouraged voter turnout more so than in other states, McCabe said.