In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, more than 137 million American adults, or 61.4% of those 18 years and older, went to the polls to cast their votes. However, voter turnout was not evenly distributed over the 50 states.
Maine had the highest voter turnout rate of any state at 72.7%. Hawaii had the lowest voter turnout by far, at just 47.3%. The voter turnout in the District of Columbia was higher than that of any state at 74.3%.
It is not entirely clear what drives voter turnout higher in some states, though people do seem to be more likely to vote in tight races. If one candidate is polling well ahead of another, voters may not feel their vote would make a difference.
In each of the five states with the highest voter turnout in 2016, the winning presidential candidate’s margin of victory was less than 3 percentage points. In the five states with the lowest turnout, the margin of victory was at least 8 percentage points, and often well above that.
Additionally, presidential elections have a much higher rate of voter turnout than midterm elections. Just 41.9% of voting age American adults cast a ballot in the 2014 midterm elections for congress. No midterm has had voter turnout over 50% since 1982. Meanwhile, all presidential elections have had voter turnout around 60% over the same period.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine the states with the highest and lowest voter participation rates in 2016.
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