The 10 States With The Worst Voter Turnout

Voting booth

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One of the most interesting statistics about a state — electorally speaking — is how motivated a state is during electoral season. Dr. Michael McDonald at George Mason University is one of the go-to researchers when it comes to analysing early voter statistics and turnout information. 

We went through the results he published about the 2008 presidential election to see which states were the least engaged. 

Here are the top 10 worst states when it comes to the per cent of eligible voters who turn out for an election.

Keep in mind that the best state turned out well over 75 per cent of eligible voters, and the national average for turnout is a little more than 61 per cent. 

10. Kentucky

Kentucky -- which had a voting eligible population of around 3.2 million -- only saw 1.8 million come out to the polls to vote for president in 2008. The turnout was a mere 57.9 per cent.

Kentucky has a very low non-citizen population -- 2.2 per cent -- but a full 1.6 per cent of the citizen population is ineligible to vote because of a felony, incarceration or probation.

This also wasn't a low turnout year politically -- Kentucky had a Senate seat up for election as well, so there was a full ballot that year.

9. Tennessee

Tennessee, Kentucky's southern neighbour, has 4.6 million eligible voters, only 2.6 million of whom came out to vote in 2008. That's a turnout rate of only 57 per cent.

Just more than 1 per cent of Tennessee's population cannot vote because of a previous felony, and 3.1 per cent aren't citizens.

Tennessee also had a Senate seat up for election.

8. Nevada

In 2008, Nevada had around 968,000 people come out to the polls of its 1.7 million voting eligible population. Its turnout rate was also 57 per cent.

In Nevada, a whopping 14.1 per cent of the population aren't citizens and cannot vote, a primary reason why the swing state sees such a low turnout rate.

The state didn't have a Senate race in 2008. It does this year, so that could theoretically boost numbers from 2008.

7. Arizona

Arizona is a surprising state on this list. It didn't have a Senate seat up for grabs, but native son and local Senator John McCain was running for President.

That makes it odd that turnout would be as low as 56.7 per cent in a state with 4 million eligible voters.

6. Utah

Utah -- the most Republican-leaning state in the nation, according to Cook Political -- had a 56 per cent eligible-voter turnout rate. Out of 1.7 million people, only 952,000 came out to vote in 2008.

The low voter turnout could be a result of just how strongly Utah tilts to the right.

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma had 2.6 million people in 2008, but only 1.5 million voted.

Only 55.8 per cent of eligible Oklahomans managed to make it out to the polls even with a Senator running for re-election.

4. Texas

Texas, with its huge partisan lean, isn't exactly a swing state.

Still, turnout is surprisingly low. Of 15 million eligible voters, only around 8 million made it to the polls, a turnout of about 54.1 per cent.

Texas is also interesting demographically, specifically because of who isn't eligible to vote. A full 13.5 per cent of Texans aren't citizens, and 2.5 per cent of Texas citizens who would otherwise be eligible have had their right to vote stripped because of a felony conviction, incarceration, or probationary status.

3. Arkansas

Arkansas -- which also has a large ineligible felon population -- had a mediocre turnout of 52.5 per cent.

Of roughly 2.1 million eligible voters, only 1.1 million came out to the polls.

2. West Virginia

West Virginia, with its 1.4 million residents, only saw 713,000 show up to the polls in 2008.

This turnout of a mere 49.9 per cent was odd, especially because of a contested Senate election, where a Democrat held ground in a red state.

1. Hawaii

Even with native son Barack Obama was running for president, Hawaii had the worst turnout rate of any state in the U.S. in 2008 -- only 48.8% of Hawaii's eligible voters came out to the polls. Still, then-Sen. Obama carried his birthplace and went on to win the White House.

The low turnout could be a result of Hawaii's deep blue history. The state is one of the most heavily Democratic in the country.

Here's one of the issues that will influence voters to go to the polls this election...

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