If the right to vote is the most sacred, a surprising number of Americans don’t bother to use it. Across the country, turnout was dismally low inTuesday’s midterm elections, when an estimated 36.6 percent of eligible voters made their way to the polls. That’s the lowest turnout in any election since 1940.
But one state stood out: In Maine, 59.3 percent of the 1 million residents who were eligible to vote made their voices heard, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Elections Project, maintained by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald.
Turnout increases when voters think there’s something consequential at stake. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage (R) was expected to lose his reelection bid; instead he won a little more than 48 percent of the vote, enough to beat out Rep. Mike Michaud (D) and independent candidate Eliot Cutler.
Other states where more than half of voters showed up were also key players in the battle for critical governorships and control of the U.S. Senate. Turnout topped 55 percent in Alaska, 52 percent in Colorado and 50 percent in Iowa, all states where Republicans won or are leading races for Democratic-held Senate seats. Turnout almost reached 57 percent in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) won a pitched reelection battle, and 51 percent in Minnesota, where voters routinely show up in relatively high numbers.
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