Declining voter turnout
Year - Reg. voters - Votes cast - Turnout %
2016 - 186384 - 29100 - 15.6
2014 - 206044 - 53694 - 26.06
2012 - 216003 - 50562 - 23.41
2010 - 207961 - 51805 - 24.91
2008 - 190150 - 30414 - 15.9
2006 - 182250 - 50968 - 27.97
2004 - 171899 - 31378 - 18.2
2002 - 159859 - 47957 - 30
2000 - 178677 - 28674 - 16.5
1998 - 175328 - 53089 - 30.28
1996 - 161700 - 35915 - 22.21
1994 - 136345 - 56515 - 41.45
It's funny what looking at Hamilton County voting patterns over 24 years can show you.
Funny, that is, if you want to cry.
In the August 1994 election, Hamilton County boasted 136,345 registered voters, and 56,515 of them cast ballots for a 41.45 percent turnout rate.
Since then, in terms of voter turnout, it has pretty much all been downhill — despite the fact that with the exception of just a couple of years, our registered voter numbers have steadily climbed.
For instance, by the year 2000, Hamilton County boasted 178,677 registered voters, according to state election archives. Yet only 28,674 voted in that August election, giving us a turnout rate of 16.5 percent.
The next year, however, was marked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and in 2002 Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist was barred from serving a third term so would-be governors covered the page on both the Republican and Democratic state primary ballots. In all, voting was suddenly more pertinent, so despite a nearly 20,000 drop in the number of registered voters, 47,957 people went to the polls, giving us a turnout rate that year of 30 percent.
Our next apathy low was 2008: We had 190,150 voters, but only 30,414 exercised their right to vote in the August primary. Turnout was 15.9 percent.
By 2014, things were looking up. We had 206,044 registered voters (down from our high of 216,003 in 2012), and 53,694 voted. Turnout was 26 percent.
So explain this year.
Again, registered voters plummeted: 186,384. And a scant 29,100 voted. Turnout again fell — this time to our lowest rate in 24 years: 15.6 percent.
Think about that. Our lowest August election turnout in almost a quarter of a century — in a year when there were partisan primaries in state legislative races and a congressional race, along with four seats on an embattled school board and competition for a county tax assessor's seat that was open for the first time in more than 20 years.
Can we blame political fatigue because the upcoming battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in November has sucked all of the air from the planet?
Does the fault lie in civic-duty ignorance because elections aren't held on Facebook or Twitter?
Is it because of a continuing assault on voting rights that makes it harder and harder, not easier and easier, to vote?
Might it be just plain apathy?
Perhaps it is all of the above.
But whatever it is — shame on us.
Hamilton County School Board, District 1View
Hamilton County School Board, District 2View
Hamilton County School Board, District 4View
Hamilton County Assessor of PropertyView
U.S. House, Tennessee, District 3View