Arkansas among lowest in nation for voter turnout

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – Arkansas’ voter turnout is among the lowest in the country, according to the United States Election Project.

University of Arkansas political science professor Dr. Janine Parry said Arkansas tends to be at the bottom of the list for voter turnout across the country.

“Arkansas over the last 10 or so years of elections of all kinds is pretty consistently in the bottom 10 in terms of voter turnout,” Parry said.

Parry said several factors account for the low number, including education, income and lack of political competitiveness.

“We are truly a one-party Republican state,” Parry said. “We know from looking at other states over several decades that it also tends to lower interest, it tends to lower voter turnout when there’s just no chance of anyone someone else wins.”

For the 2020 general election, Arkansas’ voter turnout was 56.1% for the state’s eligible voter population. Only Oklahoma ranked behind Arkansas in turnout in 2020, according to the United States Election Project. In the last midterm elections in 2018, Arkansas’ rate was 41.3% for the state’s eligible voter population. Only Hawaii was below Arkansas for voter turnout in 2018.

Common Ground Arkansas executive director Misty Orpin said midterms typically have significantly lower turnout than presidential elections.

“The midterm elections are also neglected, the general elections in November are very important, we hope people will pay attention to it and we are also doubling our efforts to register to vote,” Orpin said.

However, local and state races decided in midterm elections may have consequences for the Arkansans.

“We’re seeing more and more powers being delegated to lawmakers by the Supreme Court and their own efforts to gain more power, so these state legislative races are so important,” Oprin said.

Dr Parry said some recent issues could lead to more people voting in 2022, such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“I think we might see an increase among, you know, women here as well, but other states will also see an increase,” Parry said.

Parry also said even the historic nature of the state’s gubernatorial race is unlikely to be a big boost to voter turnout.

“Almost every race statewide and Arkansas is now won by the Republican by 30 points, even the historical look of those two leading party candidates, I think that’s just not not enough,” Parry said.

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