States Are Preparing for High Voter Turnout

Election officials from North Carolina and California recently laid out their plans to accommodate what they expect to be higher than average voter turnout in the 2016 election cycle.

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections projects that voters will cast more than 4.6 million ballots in November’s presidential election, potentially 100,000 more than in 2012. Recent guidance provided to counties by the board emphasized having each polling place ready for the highest possible number of voters, including having enough poll workers and voting technology in place. In addition, the board offered to provide justifications to any bodies evaluating election budget requests to ensure that counties are fully prepared.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla pointed to the high interest in the election this year, increased turnout in neighboring states’ primaries, and a surge in the use of online voter registration to explain why he anticipates higher participation in his state’s June primary and November general election, compared with 2012. And like the North Carolina board, he wants to be sure funding is adequate to successfully administer the elections. For example, California could have more than 20 ballot measures in November, requiring that the voter guide run to nearly 300 pages, which would push printing costs up substantially. Padilla has requested that the Legislature appropriate and the governor approve $32 million to ensure that his office and the counties have the resources they need.  

Samuel Derheimer manages, and Keara Castaldo is a research associate for, election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Kelly Hoffman