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Turnout Lower in Some States, Analyst Finds

November 06, 1996| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Voter apathy prompted declines in voter turnout in some states Tuesday, an election expert found, though how that could be was a mystery to Randy Frank, a Maryland Republican.

"If a scandal a week hasn't brought people out to the polls, I give up faith in the people," said Frank, 36, of Germantown, who voted for GOP candidate Bob Dole.

Turnout appeared to be heavy in some places, like a polling place in North Carolina where voters waited an hour or more, and Arizona, where 40 voters were lined up at a church shortly after the polls opened.

"We wanted our votes to be counted before the polls closed on the East Coast," said Jennifer Pletka, 24, who voted for Dole at a church in Chandler, Ariz. "We wanted our votes to matter."

Yet election expert Curtis Gans said that in the seven states where at least 85% of precincts had reported by early Tuesday night, voter turnout was lower than it had been in the 1992 presidential election.

The turnout was down 17% in Maryland, 12% in both Delaware and Oklahoma, 11% in Louisiana, 10% in Virginia, 9.5% in Tennessee and 6.5% in Kentucky, said Gans, founder of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

He predicted before the returns started coming in that just over half the U.S. electorate would cast ballots in this century's final presidential election.

Gans predicted turnout would drop to 51% of eligible voters--down from 55% in the last presidential election, the highest since 55.4% in the 1972 election.

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