* Registration up, voting percentage down over past 20 years
By JASON JACOBS
Times Staff Reporter
As the Nov. 2 General Election draws near, there is more of a push to get residents to the polls, and with good reason.
During the past 20 years, the number of registered voters has increased dramatically for mid-term elections in Clay County, but the percentage of those voters actually casting a ballot in the General Election has mainly decreased.
From 1990-2006, the number of county registered voters rose from 12,519 to 19,187, an increase of 53.3 percent.
When it came to actual ballots cast, the numbers inched up from 8,250 in 1990, to 8,480 in 1998, before drastically dropping to 7,594 in 2002.
The number of ballots cast in 2006 was 8,824, which was the highest of the time period, but with the increased number of registered voters, the overall turnout was nearly 20-percent lower (45.99 percent), compared to 1990 (65.9 percent).
The state as a whole also saw a similar trend during this time.
From 1990 to 2006, the number of registered voters boomed from 2,764,768 in 1990 to 4,295,687 in 2006, which was an increase of 55.4 percent. At the same time, the number of ballots cast did increase (1,567,532 in 1990, 1,719,351), but only by 9.7 percent. With the jump in registered voters and smaller increase of ballots cast, the state percentage of residents voting in mid-term elections fell from 56.7 percent in 1990, down to only 40 percent in 2006.
However, a noticeable increase has been trending for those choosing absentee/early voting.
In Clay County, the number of absentee voters from 1990-2002 varied between 477 and 538 before more than doubling in 2006 as 1,098 absentee ballots were cast (12.4 percent of all ballots).
Overall, the state slowly crept up in absentee voting numbers from 89,605 in 1990 to 116,740 in 2002. Then, in 2006, that number jumped to 170,552, meaning nearly 10 percent of all ballots cast came by absentee voting.
Early voting in Clay County began Oct. 4, and continues through Monday, Nov.1.
Clay County Deputy Clerk Beth Mallinak told The Brazil Times 685 early-voting ballots had been cast through noon, Wednesday.
"That doesn't include the number of mailed ballots or other forms of absentee voting, just those who have come to the Election Office to vote," she said. "The number is growing every day. Just Monday alone, we had 90 people cast their ballots early."
The Clay County Election Office will be open for early voting at the following times:
* 8-11 a.m. and noon-4 p.m. -- today and Friday,
* 9 a.m.-4 p.m. -- Saturday, and
* 8 a.m.-noon -- Monday, Nov. 1.
In addition, polls will be open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 2, for the General Election.
For more information about early voting, contact the Election Office at 448-9023.
Registration, turnout figures
The following table outlines the voter registration and number of ballots cast in mid-term General Elections since 1990 in Clay County:
|Year||Registered Voters||Ballots cast||Turnout||In person||Absentee|
Note: Numbers in the "Turnout" column are percentages.
Correction (11:40 a.m., Oct. 28): Error in "Registration, turnout figures" stating figures reflected those from Primary Elections has been corrected to read General Elections.