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40% turnout predicted

Texas Secretary of State Gwyn Smith is predicting 40% turnout, or approximately 5 million voters, in this year’s election. That compares to 32.4% and 3.7 million voters in 1998, though it’s nowhere near the level of Presidential elections (6.4 million and 51.8% in 2000, 5.6 million and 53.2% in 1996).

Interestingly, if you look at turnout over the years, the turnout for the governor’s race in 1994 was over 50%. However, a much smaller percentage of the voting age population was registered (66.09% in 1994 versus 78.75% for the primaries in 2002). The big jump appears to have taken place in 1996. Given that Texas instituted a Motor Voter law in 1991, two years before the NVRA was enacted in 1993, I wonder why it took so long for the registration gap to start to close.

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