Voter turnout suffers decline

Despite the atypically high voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election, a much lower percentage of voters came out for election day yesterday. As of press time with 99.68 precincts reporting, only 39.82 percent of Virginia voters cast their ballots in the gubernatorial election, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Only 1,973,868 of a total 4,955,755 voters participated in the gubernatorial race - "a miniscule number when you consider there were 3.7 million voters in the 2008 election," said Isaac Wood, assistant communications director at the University Center for Politics and a former Cavalier Daily columnist. He added that generally one-third of Virginia voters in presidential elections choose not to participate in gubernatorial elections, and that, as such, yesterday's voter turnout was even lower than usual.

Wood said this was likely because so many voters in 2008 were first-time voters, young voters or minority voters. Often, he explained, these groups are prone not to vote in off-year elections.

Still, Wood found it "surprising" that turnout was so low in this election, asserting that pre-election day poll results may have contributed to the decreased number of voters across the commonwealth. Because almost every poll placed Bob McDonnell in the lead by a double-digit margin, his supporters may not have felt the need to go out and vote, Wood said. Many Creigh Deeds supporters, meanwhile, may have seen the election as an inevitable loss and thus felt apathetic about casting their votes.

-compiled by Samantha Koon

Published November 4, 2009 in News

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