Augusta Board of Elections predicts 50% voter turnout

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October 30, 2006

Early voting for the November 7th election is now underway, and experts say the number of people who turn out could affect the outcome.

As of our 5 o'clock newscast, more than two thousand people had cast their votes. Those numbers are important, because studies show a direct link between turnout and the types of candidates who take office.

Several hundred people lined up to take part in advance voting at Augusta's Municipal Building.

Barbara Crout says the decision is worth the wait.

"It was a little more crowded than I realized it was going to be," she said.

"I hate standing in line for anything," laughed Fred Stallings.

In addition to the hundreds who voted early, nearly 1600 people have already voted absentee. The Board of Elections predicts an average turnout of about 50 percent if that trend continues.

But history teacher John Barney says that number only applies to registered voters.

"Only about 50 percent of Americans who are qualified to vote actually register to vote," he told News 12.

That translates to a quarter of the total population.

So how does the turnout affect the outcome? Mr. Barney says that historically, higher turnouts tend to favor liberal candidates, while lower turnouts favor conservatives.

The next question is what affects the turnout? Research shows registered Democrats have a harder time getting to the polls, so things like bad weather or lack of transportation are more likely to keep them at home.

With this election, the predicted average turnout could make for a close race.

The Board of Elections expects absentee votes to come in through the end of the week. Advance voting will continue through Friday.

Click here to find out where to go for advance voting in Richmond and Columbia counties.