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Posted on: November 29, 2018

Casting ballots: Voter turnout highest in nearly three decades

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By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018

It’s starting to feel like the early 1990s again in Wise County, at least in terms of local voter turnout.

Wise County saw its largest turnout for a midterm election in 28 years this year, according to official numbers.

Election results from the Nov. 6 election became official last week, and the numbers show that 55.84 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the election. That’s 23,312 of the 41,749 registered voters in the county.

It was close to a midterm election record, but didn’t quite match the voter turnout rate from 1990. According to a Wise County Messenger archive story, 57.7 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in that election, which featured a gubernatorial race between Democrat Ann Richards and Republican Clayton Williams. Richards was narrowly elected – the last time a Democrat won a governor’s race in Texas.

The Messenger archive story notes that a midterm record 9,466 votes were cast in the 1990 general election.

Two years later, Wise County would record its highest voter turnout percentage ever in the presidential election of 1992 when 76 percent of registered voters in Wise County went to the polls.

The top of the ballot that year featured a three-way race for president which featured George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton. Less than 1 percentage point separated the three in Wise County results, which saw Bush get 33.7 percent of Wise County votes, Perot 33.2 percent and Clinton 33.1 percent.

The midterm turnout percentage once again topped 50 percent in the governor race of 1994. According to records from the Texas Secretary of State, 51.8 percent of Wise County registered voters participated in that year’s race between Richards and Republican challenger George W. Bush. That was the last time before this year that midterm voter turnout would top 50 percent.

Over the next 18 years, voter turnout was remarkably consistent in Wise County, according to secretary of state numbers based on voter turnout in governor elections and presidential elections.

From 1996 to 2014, midterm election turnout in Wise County ranged from 34.8 percent to 37.02 percent. Presidential elections saw a turnout rate between 54.74 to 59.25 percent.

That trend began to change in 2016, when voter turnout topped 60 percent again for the first time since that record-setting 1992 presidential election. In 2016, Wise County voter turnout for the presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton drew 63.38 percent of registered voters.

We’ll have to wait until 2020 to see if the 90s nostalgia for voting turnout continues for Wise County voters.

View original article in the Wise County Messenger.

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