Home 2014 Races Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary’s Latest Turnout Prediction for Tuesday’s County Board Election

Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary’s Latest Turnout Prediction for Tuesday’s County Board Election

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Boom to Bust? 

Since my last report, my stunningly rosy predictions have gone to hell in a hand basket.  Other than bad judgment, there are three factors at work. 

1)   I had the misfortune of publishing at the exact high point of predicted absentee turnout.

)   Since that day, the initial high levels of absentee turnout have declined precipitously.  This is strange; as normally the predicted turnout goes up, not down, as Election Day approaches and the excitement grows.

3)   I had expected the Registrar of Voters to be open last Saturday and anticipated that well over one hundred fevered souls would show up to cast their ballots.  That assumption of an open door policy did not apply to this race because it is a special election and not a general election.  It will be true, however, for this year’s June Congressional primary.  (Go figure!)

 

A little history of special elections may be in order.

 

Year

Turnout

Absentee

%Absentee

1990

19,577

415

2.1%

1993

18,536

283

1.5%

1996

18,161

341

1.9%

1999

18,898

449

2.4%

2003

21,624

601

2.8%

2012

14,313

830

5.8%

 

The lessening of strictures on absentee voting and its ever-increasing popularity started around 2004, so it is not surprising that the absentee vote through 2003 represented about 2.2% of total turnout (although an upward trend is apparent from 1993 forward) . 

 

The 2012 special is a real anomaly in that both Democrats and Republicans, in the thousands, declined to participate.  This year, 2014, also appears to be an anomaly in that, as of yesterday, a total of 1,321 absentee ballots has already been cast.  Given prior voting patterns, I anticipate that, when the dust settles, between 1,870 and 2,050 (about 6.25%) will have voted absentee.  While radically lower than my prior prediction, this year’s absentee turnout will easily set the record for a special election.

 

That consideration should likewise be reflected in total turnout, which should be on the order of 29,000 to 32,000, once again easily setting a new record for turnout in a special election.

 

As I close, I cannot help noting that about 450 to 500 determined souls are likely to vote in person at the Registrar’s office today and tomorrow.  Assuming my super-secret mole in that office (Assistant Registrar Cheryl Scannell) survives the weekend, I’ll issue an update on all this on Monday.  Meanwhile – Many Happy Returns!