- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

Voters in the nonbattleground states of Virginia and Maryland surpassed the national average turnout of 60 percent at the polls on Tuesday.

About 116 million voters cast their ballots nationwide on Election Day. That figure is expected to reach 120 million once absentee votes are counted.

Virginia had a turnout of 70 percent, with 3.2 million voters casting ballots. This year’s number of voters broke the state record set in 2000 of 2.8 million people. In 1992, the state had a turnout of 84.5 percent, with 2.6 million voting. The turnout percentage was higher that year because the number of registered voters was lower.

Barbara Cockrell, assistant secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, had never seen such a spirited electorate.

“Apparently, it was a battleground state in the minds of Virginia voters,” said Mrs. Cockrell, who has worked on elections issues in the state since 1975. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an election where people were more passionate, both about the candidates and the issues and about their right to vote. I’d love to see people this passionate about every election.”

President Bush beat Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry by almost nine percentage points in Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes. It is the 10th consecutive time that the state’s electoral votes went to a Republican.

Maryland had a turnout of 71 percent, with 2.2 million voters casting ballots. This year’s number of voters broke the state record of 2 million voters set in 2000.

Mr. Kerry beat Mr. Bush by about 13 percentage points in the state, which has 10 electoral votes.

Linda H. Lamone, administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections, said voters in her state traditionally turn out in high numbers for presidential elections. Based on the volume of calls into her office as Election Day neared, Mrs. Lamone said, interest in this election surpassed that of others.

“There were just tons and tons of calls,” she said.

Virginia and Maryland did not beat state records for percentage of turnout, however.

Based on the percentage of turnout, Virginia this year had about the same turnout as in 2000, and a lower turnout than in 1992.

Based on the number of voters, Maryland had its highest turnout this year. According to the percentage of turnout, Maryland’s record 82 percent was set in 1952. The 1992 election came close to that record, with a turnout of 81 percent.

The District, which has never voted for a Republican for president, had a low turnout compared with previous presidential elections. Its three electoral votes went to Mr. Kerry.

D.C. officials reported a turnout of 54 percent, nowhere near the record turnout of 78 percent in 1984. Mr. Kerry won 90 percent of the vote in the District. The actual number of voters was up from the past few elections, but the turnout percentage had decreased.

Virginia, Maryland and the District had record numbers when compared with the number of persons eligible to vote, according to the Associated Press.

By that measure, Virginia and the District had record turnouts of more than 50 percent. Turnout in Maryland was up more than two percentage points from 2000, the Associated Press reported.

Maryland and Virginia experienced record jumps in voter registration and demand for absentee ballots this year.

There were 400,000 more voters on the rolls in Virginia this year than in 2000 — an 11-point increase. Nearly 65,000 of them registered in the final three days before the Oct. 4 deadline.

More than 223,000 people in Virginia applied for mail-in absentee ballots this year. In 2000, Virginians cast more than 150,000 absentee ballots.

The number of registered voters in Maryland surpassed the 3 million mark, up nearly 10 percent from 2000, elections officials had said. The state issued more than 130,000 absentee ballots. In 2000, Marylanders cast 96,366 such ballots.

In the District, there were nearly 30,000 more registered voters than there were before the 2000 election. Elections officials had said that about 15,000 people had requested absentee ballots, but could not say how many had voted.

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