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Voter Turnout
The calculations of voter turnout is determined by dividing the number of persons voting by the size of potential voting population.

Calculations used on the Web Site

The official voter turnout is calculated by dividing the total ballots cast by the voting age population. However, the estimate of the voting age population is only available statewide and total ballots cast information is not available until after county canvassing boards meet up to a week after the election.

To provide an estimate of voter turnout on election night, and estimates of turnout by election district, county, and precinct, this web site also reports voter turnout calculated by dividing key race (Governor and Lieutenant Governor) results by the number of persons registered at 7:00 AM on Election day.

To see the difference between these two methods of calculating voter turnout, in 2000 the turnout estimates were:     Official Voter Turnout = 69.4%
    Key Race / 7:00 AM registrants = 75.25%

The number of persons Voting:

On election night, and for the first few days after the election, the number of persons voting is equal to the total number of votes for all candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. This method is known as "key race" calculation. The "key race" in this election is Governor and Lieutenant Governor. In 2000 and 2004 the key race is president and vice president.

The advantage of key race calculation is that it is immediately available as election results are reported on election night. The disadvantage is that not every ballot cast contains a vote for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. As many as 2-5 percent of ballots cast do not record a vote for Governor and Lieutenant Governor which may result in reporting a lower turnout that actually occurred. The key race method is used on this web site until the official voter turnout can be calculated.

The official voter turnout is calculated by dividing the total number of ballots cast by the total voting age population. While this method is not available for up to a week following the election, it is the most accurate reflection of the voter participation.

The size of the Potential Voting Population:

There are three ways of determining the number of people who could have voted. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Percentage of Voters Who Were Registered as of 7 A.M. on Election Day.
    • This is the formula used on this website, and reflects the number of voters who "pre-registered" in time to have their names printed on the "rosters," the list of voters available in each polling place.
    • The advantage to this formula is that it uses precise numbers of registered voters (not an estimate), which can be determined and entered into the system before voting begins. The disadvantage to this formula is that it does not reflect the number of voters who registered and voted on Election Day itself.

  2. Percentage of Voters Who Were Registered on Election Day
    • This is the formula that will be used after Election Night on this website when Election Day registration information is available.
    • The advantage to this formula is that it also uses precise numbers of registered voters (not an estimate). The disadvantage to this formula is that the precise number cannot be determined until after Election Night reporting has been completed, for the reasons discussed above.

  3. Percentage of Voting Age Population
    • This formula is used to determine what percentage of voters cast ballots from the entire larger population group that could have registered and cast ballots.
    • The advantage to this formula is that it can measure overall involvement in the election process. It calculates the number of individuals 18 years of age or older who could have registered to vote, but did not. The disadvantage to this formula is that it cannot be as precise a measure as percentage of actual voters. For example, felons and individuals under "guardianship of the person" are included in this number, even though they cannot in fact register or vote.
    • Traditionally, the U.S. Census Bureau provides a voting age population estimate at the beginning of each election year. However, the U.S. Census Bureau has not yet released an estimate for 2002. The MN Office of the Secretary of State unofficially estimates the voting age population for 2002 to be 3,712,500 people. When official estimates become available from the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout results will be adjusted to reflect the official estimates.

For more information about Voter Turnout and Voting Age Population:

Historic turnout in Minnesota: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/election/elstat94.pdf
U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/voting.html
Federal Elections Commission: http://www.fec.gov/elections.html