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National Election 2016
KNKX, along with NPR, will bring you all the information you will need as we close in on Election Day 2016. Stay up to date with national issues along with stories about how this election cycle will affect you and your family here in Washington and around the world.Also be sure to check out all of our local coverage here.

Oregon Voter Turnout: Record High Numbers, But Not Record High Percentage

File photo of returned ballots at the Marion County Elections office in late October.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
File photo of returned ballots at the Marion County Elections office in late October.

More voters cast a ballot than ever before in this month's election in Oregon. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Thursday that 2,022,384 voters took part.

Until now the highest number of votes cast in Oregon was 1,845,251. That was during the 2008 presidential election that put Barack Obama in office.

But while the raw number of ballots cast set a record, the turnout percentage did not. This year's turnout was 78.9 percent. That's been exceeded several times, most recently during the 2012 presidential election. It's the lowest turnout in a presidential year since 1996.

The lower turnout could be in part due to the state's new automatic voter registration law, which signed up nearly 270,000 people this year during visits to the DMV. The Secretary of State's office will announce next week how many of those automatically registered voters actually cast a ballot.

Turnout was higher for Republicans, at 88.1 percent, than for Democrats, at 86.6 percent. But the Democrats' wide edge in voter registrations meant that more than 200,000 additional Democratic votes were tallied than Republican votes.

The Independent Party, which entered this year's contest as a "major party" for the first time, saw 77.7 percent of its members cast a ballot. Among voters unaffiliated with a political party, turnout was 59.3 percent, far lower than the overall turnout rate.

Harney County had the highest turnout rate statewide, with 85.2 percent. The county with the lowest turnout was Umatilla County, with 72.5 percent. The state's most populated county, Multomah, saw a 79.9 percent turnout rate.

The Oregon Secretary of State's office lists voter turnout for each general election since 1960 on its website. That list shows that statewide turnout reached 86.51 percent in 1960, when Oregonians chose Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy. More recently, turnout reached 86.48 percent in 2004, when state voters chose John Kerry over George W. Bush.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.