CHARLES TOWN – Despite long waits during this year’s early voting period, voter turnout in Jefferson County for 2012 was the lowest it has been in the last several election cycles.
This election, 21,990 of the 35,862 registered voters cast ballots this election. At around 61 percent, the voter turnout rate is lower than that in either the 2008 elections, when Barak Obama faced off against John McCain, or the 2004 elections, when John Kerry faced off against George W. Bush.
The last three election cycles show a steady decline in Jefferson County voter turnout.
In 2004, there were 28,854 registered voters in the county, 20,277 of whom cast ballots in the general election, a turnout rate of just over 70 percent.
In 2008, voter turnout dropped slightly. Of the 34,537 registered voters during that election cycle, only 22,771, or just under 66 percent, voted.
In both cycles, Jefferson County had a much higher turnout rate than the national average, just over 55 percent in 2004 and just under 57 percent in 2008. In both years Jefferson County also had a higher turnout rate than the state average, which was 66 percent in 2004 and 58 percent in 2008.
Early voting in Jefferson County, and throughout the nation, also saw great gains this year. In Jefferson County 5,389 voters cast early ballots this year, around 15 percent of the registered population. By contrast, only 950 residents cast early ballots in the 2008 general election. Those gains were not enough to make up for the increasing numbers who are staying home on election day, however.