Worcester, Nation Set New Voter Turnout Record

OCEAN CITY – A record number of voters turned out both locally and nationally in Tuesday’s historic Presidential election, making it the biggest percentage voter turnout in a century.

With 88 percent of precincts in on Wednesday, over 136 million people cast votes in Tuesday’s Presidential election, which saw Senator Barack Obama of Illinois elected as the country’s first African-American President.  That equates to 64.1 percent of registered voters who turned up at the polls, beating the post World War II record of voter turnout of 63.8 percent in the 1960 election in which John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by a narrow margin.

Statistically, Tuesday’s election was also historic as one would have to go back all the way to 1908 when William Howard Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan to find a higher voter percentage turnout.

Some counts like the American University’s Center for the study of the American Electorate have claimed that the unofficial number of votes could reach unprecedented numbers, up to 140 million by some reports, which will smash the previous high vote total of 122 million cast to decide the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Locally, Worcester County saw a record turnout, with 71 percent of registered voters coming to the polls, according to the Worcester County Board of Elections’ unofficial numbers.  That number, which still needs to factor in absentee ballots, which can be counted until Nov. 14, is slightly higher than the previous recorded highs set in 2004 (70 percent) and 2000 (69 percent).

Worcester County, which has voted for Republican presidential candidates since 1988, stayed true to that trend with 57 percent of the voters choosing McCain, with neighboring Wicomico County mirroring that trend, voting McCain over Obama with 52 percent of the vote.

All over the Eastern Shore, voters came out in droves, with almost every county seeing high voter turnouts, and all stayed true to the “vote red” trend the Eastern Shore has seen since at least 1988 as every Eastern Shore county voted for John McCain.  The state of Maryland however, went to Obama with 61 percent of voters in Maryland voting for the Illinois senator.  Maryland stayed true to the trend of voting Democratic for president, as state voters haven’t overwhelmingly chosen a Republican candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Obama also set a record for the number of popular votes received. As it stands, he has gained over 63 million votes eclipsing the previous high that George W. Bush earned in 2004 with 62 million.

The youth of America chose 2008 to finally “rock the vote” as it is expected to be the highest turnout ever for 18-24-year-old voters nationwide with Obama being favored 2 to 1, as well as record turnouts for African-Americans, first-time voters and women, who saw almost six of 10 women favoring Obama.

Voter registration was up just 2.5 percent according to the Associated Press, with a surge in Democrat registration and a decline in Republican registration.  In Worcester County, voter registration was down slightly from the 2004 election.

Some states like Connecticut, Virginia and Colorado saw almost 90 percent of their registered voters come out to vote, with many standing in long lines and bad weather.  It is projected that once absentee ballots are counted Maryland could join states like California, Texas, and Ohio that boasted over 80 percent of their voters going to the polls.

Truly, it is only fitting that in the election where the nation chose an African-American to lead the country, there was the largest turnout of black and minority voters in history. White voters accounted for 74 percent of the nation’s voting pool, which is the lowest ever.  In comparison, that number was at 81 percent in the 2000 election.