- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nearly 139 million Americans voted in the 2016 general election, a 1.6 percent increase from 2012, according to a just-released report on voter turnout.

About 60.2 percent of eligible U.S. voters turned out for last year’s presidential election, the report states. About 62 percent turned out for the 2008 election, according to an older report.

The report is a bi-annual study of voter turnout produced by the independent Nonprofit Vote and the U.S. Election Project.

“Nationally in 2016, four of ten eligible voters didn’t vote or couldn’t vote — due in many cases to largely solvable problems with their voter registration or getting to the polls,” wrote Brian Miller, executive director for Nonprofit Vote. “However, it is the state turnout rankings that provide a unique lens to discuss factors that affect voter turnout and promote active citizenship.”

For 2016, the report highlighted two factors that contributed to the high voter turnout: Instances of living in a battleground state and states with a same-day registration policy.

The study found that the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent 95 percent of their campaign funds and 99 percent of their visits on battleground states. Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of targeted campaign spending and visits.

The lowest voter turnout occurred in Hawaii, West Virginia, Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas. The study notes that turnout in these states is consistently low, unchanged over the last three election cycles.

Latino and Asian-Americans, both of whom disproportionately live outside of battleground states, produced the lowest voter turnout among ethnic groups.

“Low turnout can also relate to restrictive voting laws and a less educated electorate. These three factors reinforce a culture of non-voting that seems hard to change,” the authors write.

Same-day voter registration, which allows citizens to register or update their information on Election Day, was introduced in the 1970s.

“Voter turnout in states with SDR was seven points higher than states without the option, consistent with every election since the policy was first introduced,” the study states.

Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado and Wisconsin were the six highest-ranking states for voter turnout that also offer same day registration.

Other states that have SDR: include Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia.

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