Which States Vote the Least and Which States Vote the Most?

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Americans take great pride in our democratic system, which we tout as the main opportunity for our citizens to be a part of the political process. Despite this, voting (the mechanism that gives us the most access to this process) is still something we struggle with: America's voter participation rates are still astonishingly low compared to other developed countries. With a 53.6 percent participation rate among eligible voters, we fall far behind countries such as Belgium (87.2 percent), Sweden (82.6 percent), and France (71.2 percent). In an especially crazy and unpredictable general election year, exercising your right to vote is more crucial than ever.

While the overall national participation rate is low, the rates vary widely on a state-by-state basis. With the presidential election just one day away, Law Street took a look at the average state turnout during general elections to see who's been voting (and who hasn't) for president. We'll have to wait until Election Day to see if these states will maintain their spots on the list.

Click through the slideshow below to see the top to see our rankings of the top five states with the lowest and highest voter turnout rates:

*Note: these numbers reflect the average of the turnout rates of general elections since 1980, based on Census Bureau statistics.

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#2 Lowest: West Virginia

Image courtesy of [Taber Andrew Bain via Flickr]

Image courtesy of Taber Andrew Bain; License: (CC BY 2.0)

Average Voter Participation: 54.9 percent

Blue/Red/Swing State?: Red

West Virginia’s voter turnout rates have remained on the lower side but hit a new low in the 2012 election cycle when the state beat out Hawaii to have the lowest voter turnout in the country. There are many factors that could contribute to low turnout at the polls, and Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant tells Law Street, “it would be challenging to know exactly why voter turnout was low both in West Virginia and nationally in the general election.”

However, voter turnout is reportedly looking up for the state. Tennant says that since the launch of an online voter registration application, more people have been registering to vote, leading to some of its highest turnout numbers in May’s primary. These efforts will hopefully be reflected in higher turnout numbers this November.

Mariam Jaffery
Mariam was an Executive Assistant at Law Street Media and a native of Northern Virginia. She has a B.A. in International Affairs with a minor in Business Administration from George Washington University. Contact Mariam at mjaffery@lawstreetmedia.com.



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