Special Report

States Where the Most (and Fewest) People Vote in the Primaries

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The 2020 presidential nomination process begins Feb. 3 with the Iowa Caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb.11. Candidates from both parties battle it out during primaries and caucuses to try to win their party’s presidential nomination, which will be decided at their national conventions in July for the Democratic Party and in August for the Republican Party.

Although the primary vote is critical in choosing the next president, interest in the  primaries varies from state to state. As the primary campaign gets underway, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the states with the highest and lowest voter turnout rates in the primaries and caucuses by analyzing data from the United States Election Project.

In primaries, voters directly select their nominee, and most states use the primary method to select candidates. A caucus is a meeting of party members who convene to discuss policies, actions, or meet to nominate a presidential candidate. Those participating in the caucuses choose delegates who will represent them when they vote for candidates at the national convention. Here is how important the Iowa Caucuses were in every election.

States such as New Hampshire and Wisconsin are usually among the states with the highest voter turnout in primaries. New Hampshire has the advantage of going first in the primary season — state law requires New Hampshire to vote first — which stokes voter interest. The Granite State is famous for its political engagement. Its state legislature has 424 members, the most of any American representative body besides the U.S. Congress. 

Wisconsin has a long history of civic involvement as well, dating back to Progressive Republican Gov. Robert La Follette in the early 20th century. He believed voters have a stake in an efficient and honest government. Here is the best and worst thing about every state.

Click here to see the states where the most (and fewest) people vote in the primaries

To determine how many people voted in the primaries and caucuses in each state, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed data from the United States Election Project. Turnout rates were calculated by taking the number of votes in each party’s primary or caucus and dividing by the eligible voter population. We did not include vote totals when delegates were decided at a party’s convention.

Source: AuburnPilot / Wikimedia Commons

1. Alabama
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 35.0% (10th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 3,602,334
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 399,899
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 860,652

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2. Alaska
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 6.2% (4th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 520,731
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 10,600
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 21,930

Source: Davel5957 / Getty Images

3. Arizona
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 23.5% (19th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,659,373
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 468,461
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 625,770

Source: BlazenImages / Getty Images

4. Arkansas
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 30.2% (19th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 2,137,115
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 221,020
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 410,920

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5. California
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 34.0% (13th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 25,126,973
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 5,173,338
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 2,227,306

Source: nick1803 / Getty Images

6. Colorado
> 2016 primary election voting rate: N/A
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 3,928,790
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 123,508
> Vote in party contest – Republican: Convention

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Source: Ragesoss / Wikimedia Commons

7. Connecticut
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 21.0% (14th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 2,579,776
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 328,624
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 213,647

Source: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

8. Delaware
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 23.5% (20th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 695,642
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 93,640
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 69,892

Source: Ingo Dörenberg / Getty Images

9. Florida
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 28.2% (24th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 14,445,578
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,709,183
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 2,361,805

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Source: Gwringle / Wikimedia Commons

10. Georgia
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 29.9% (21st highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 6,900,387
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 765,366
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,295,963

Source: maximkabb / iStock

11. Hawaii
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 4.6% (the lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 1,025,208
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 33,716
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 13,377

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12. Idaho
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 21.9% (17th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 1,149,007
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 23,884
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 226,711

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

13. Illinois
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 38.9% (4th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 9,015,796
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 2,056,047
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,449,748

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

14. Indiana
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 36.0% (7th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,855,984
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 638,779
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,110,543

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Source: Davel5957 / Getty Images

15. Iowa
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 15.7% (8th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 2,286,197
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 171,109
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 186,874

Source: sframephoto / Getty Images

16. Kansas
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 5.5% (2nd lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 2,062,778
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 40,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 73,116

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Source: AndreyKrav / Getty Images

17. Kentucky
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 21.0% (15th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 3,265,260
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 454,573
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 229,667

Source: grandriver / Getty Images

18. Louisiana
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 18.2% (11th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 3,373,552
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 311,776
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 301,241

Source: Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons

19. Maine
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 6.1% (3rd lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 1,054,309
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 46,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 18,650

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

20. Maryland
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 32.8% (15th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,190,917
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 916,763
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 459,066

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

21. Massachusetts
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 37.4% (6th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,966,742
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,220,296
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 637,703

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Source: benkrut / Getty Images

22. Michigan
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 34.1% (12th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 7,419,694
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,205,552
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,323,589

Source: RudyBalasko / Getty Images

23. Minnesota
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 8.1% (5th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 3,967,061
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 207,109
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 114,245

Source: Tiago_Fernandez / Getty Images

24. Mississippi
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 29.5% (22nd highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 2,181,159
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 227,164
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 416,252

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25. Missouri
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 34.8% (11th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,518,767
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 629,425
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 939,270

Source: peeterv / Getty Images

26. Montana
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 35.5% (9th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 798,787
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 126,376
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 156,888

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Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

27. Nebraska
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 17.2% (10th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 1,349,169
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 33,460
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 197,430

Source: photoquest7 / Getty Images

28. Nevada
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 8.2% (6th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 1,936,072
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 84,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 75,216

Source: jiawangkun / Getty Images

29. New Hampshire
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 52.4% (the highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 1,035,734
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 254,776
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 287,683

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

30. New Jersey
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 20.4% (13th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 6,060,729
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 793,548
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 443,062

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

31. New Mexico
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 22.6% (18th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 1,455,013
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 216,705
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 104,627

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Source: spyarm / Getty Images

32. New York
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 21.2% (16th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 13,638,797
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,970,900
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 921,771

Source: Kruck20 / Getty Images

33. North Carolina
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 31.6% (16th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 7,266,734
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,142,916
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,149,530

Source: ChrisBoswell / Getty Images

34. North Dakota
> 2016 primary election voting rate: N/A
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 578,789
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 4,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: Convention

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35. Ohio
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 37.5% (5th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 8,738,019
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,259,754
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 2,014,396

Source: DustyPixel / Getty Images

36. Oklahoma
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 28.6% (23rd highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 2,781,841
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 335,843
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 459,922

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Source: ChrisBoswell / Getty Images

37. Oregon
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 36.0% (7th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 2,980,345
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 658,102
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 415,103

Source: Bodhichita / Getty Images

38. Pennsylvania
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 33.7% (14th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 9,721,843
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,681,427
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,594,475

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

39. Rhode Island
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 23.6% (21st lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 780,998
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 122,458
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 61,614

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Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

40. South Carolina
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 30.5% (18th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 3,663,583
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 373,063
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 745,405

Source: JMichl / Getty Images

41. South Dakota
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 19.9% (12th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 634,281
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 53,006
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 66,879

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

42. Tennessee
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 25.3% (23rd lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,874,592
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 377,222
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 855,729

Source: dszc / Getty Images

43. Texas
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 24.7% (22nd lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 17,299,279
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,435,895
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 2,836,488

Source: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons

44. Utah
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 14.3% (7th lowest)
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 1,963,474
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 81,606
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 200,000

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Source: Jonathanking / Wikimedia Commons

45. Vermont
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 39.8% (3rd highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 495,563
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 135,256
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 61,756

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

46. Virginia
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 30.1% (20th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 6,022,089
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 785,041
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,025,425

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Source: aiisha5 / iStock

47. Washington
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 16.0% (9th lowest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 5,095,707
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 230,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 587,152

Source: benedek / Getty Images

48. West Virginia
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 31.1% (17th highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 1,434,982
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 242,539
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 204,061

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

49. Wisconsin
> 2016 primary election voting rate: 49.4% (2nd highest)
> Election type: Primary
> Voting eligible population: 4,282,271
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 1,007,600
> Vote in party contest – Republican: 1,105,944

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Source: collins_family / Flickr

50. Wyoming
> 2016 primary election voting rate: N/A
> Election type: Caucus
> Voting eligible population: 428,411
> Vote in party contest – Democratic: 7,000
> Vote in party contest – Republican: Convention

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