D.C.’s early and absentee voting, by the numbers

April 22, 2013

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

With about 12 hours till polls open, it remains anyone’s guess who will triumph in tomorrow’s D.C. Council special election. But a look at the characteristics of the 2,894 ballots already cast during early voting, as well as the 6,669 absentee ballots requested by city voters, offer some insights into the shape of the electorate.

• Ward 6 voters were early-voting champions, with its 631 votes representing 22 percent of the total early ballots cast (versus 15 percent of the city’s registered voting base). Ward 5 came in second place, with about 15 percent of the early vote. Meanwhile, wards 7 and 8 lagged badly, with 6.4 and 4.6 percent of the early vote, respectively.

• Republicans turned out slightly better than expected for early voting, with GOP registrants making up 7.4 percent of early ballots versus 6.3 percent of the citywide voting base. But they are massively outperforming the rest of the electorate in absentee ballot requests. More than one-fourth of all absentee requests were made by Republicans. Not all ballots that are requested are mailed by Election Day (3,135 had been received by Friday), but the figures indicate sole Republican Patrick D. Mara could count on a boost should the race go down to absentees.

• On the flip side for Mara, independent voter interest appears weak. Making up 17 percent of the registered voter base, independents made up only 7.6 percent of the early vote turnout and 8.5 percent of absentee voter requests. Democrats outperformed their 75 percent registration voter share in early voting, with 84 percent of ballots cast.

• Democrat Anita Bonds, who is counting on strong support in wards 4, 5, 7 and 8, should be concerned that her Election Day get-out-the-vote operation is up to snuff. Those four wards, out of eight total, made up only 40 percent of the early-voting electorate and only 33 percent of absentee-ballot requesters.

• All that said, don’t put too much stock into these numbers as being too meaningful. In November’s general election, early voters were most heavily in wards 4 and 5. But in the final tallies, voters from wards 6 and 3 caught up, and then some. And the share of the vote from Democratic registrants increased from 85 percent in early voting to over 90 percent in the final certified count.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | April 22, 2013