Charleston, W.Va. – Secretary of State Natalie Tennant released historic voter turnout numbers today dating back to the primary election in 1950, a midterm election during President Harry Truman’s second term.
During that election, there were just over one million registered voters in the state and only about 29 percent of them cast a ballot.
Interestingly during the 1952 general election, when Dwight Eisenhower was elected president and a Washington outsider named Robert C. Byrd was elected to the House of Representatives, voter turnout rebounded to about 75 percent.
From the Fifties to the Eighties, it was not uncommon to have voter turnout well over 70 percent. West Virginia also saw voter turnout over 70 percent in the general elections in 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1992.
Since 1992, the highest voter turnout was about 67 percent in the 1996 general election.
Since 2000, the highest voter turnout was about 66 percent in the 2004 general election.
West Virginia has also seen low voter turnout.
The turnout was about 28 percent in the 1954 primary, 31 percent in the 1958 primary, 31 percent in the 1962 primary, 29 percent in the 1966 primary, 28 percent in the 1974 primary, 31 percent in the 1978 primary, 26 percent in the 1986 primary, 14 percent in the 2005 special election, 26 percent in the 2006 primary, 24 percent in the 2010 primary, and about 12 percent in the 2010 special primary.
Several other elections saw voter turnout under 35 percent.
West Virginia’s population and voting age population has remained steady throughout the years. In 1976, the total population of the state was around 1,880,000. In that year, there were about 1,314,000 people who were of voting age. For the 2010 special primary, the state’s population was about 1,819,000 with about 1,433,000 people of voting age. There are about 150,000 more registered voters in West Virginia now than there were in 1976.
To see the complete database of voter turnout dating back to 1950, click here.