Over 3 Million Expected to Vote in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is predicting that 3.1 million people will cast ballots for the Tuesday, November 8 General Election. That’s 69.6% of Wisconsin’s 2016 voting-age population of 4,449,170, according to Census estimates.

“We project turnout will be similar to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, which was 2,996,869 (69.2%) and 3,080,628 (70.4%),” said Michael Haas, Wisconsin’s chief elections official.  “We typically look at history for guidance in predicting turnout. We expect turnout for this election to be similar to previous presidential elections.”

Even though absentee voting has been growing in popularity, it is not necessarily an indicator of higher overall turnout, Haas said. As of Thursday morning, 623,503 absentee ballots had been returned to municipal clerks for counting on Election Day. In 2012, 659,444 absentee ballots were counted, compared to 639,913 absentee ballots counted in 2008. Comparable pre-election numbers of absentee ballots cast are not available because clerks were not required to track them using the state’s system as they are now.

Historically, the highest voter turnout percentage in a November presidential election in the last 50 years was 72.9% in 2004. The highest number of voters to participate in a presidential election was 3,080,628 in 2012. Statistics on past voter turnout and current voter registration are available at http://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/statistics.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission calculates election turnout as a percentage of the voting-age population, not as a percentage of registered voters.  Wisconsin had 3,558,877 registered voters on November 2. Some local election officials may report turnout based on voter registrations because those numbers are readily available to them. The WEC advises news organizations comparing state and local turnout numbers to take that information into consideration. Local voting-age population estimates are available from Wisconsin’s Demographic Services Center: http://www.doa.wi.gov/divisions/intergovernmental-relations/demographic-services-center/estimates.

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