ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas’ voter turnout is among the lowest in the nation, according to the United States Election Project.
Political Science Professor at the University of Arkansas Dr. Janine Parry said Arkansas tends to be at the bottom of the list for voter turnout across the country.
“Arkansas in the last 10 years or so of elections of all kinds is pretty consistently in the bottom 10 in terms of voter turnout,” Parry said.
Parry said there are multiple factors leading to the low number including education, income and lack of political competitiveness.
“We’re very much a one-party Republican state,” Parry said. “We know by looking at other states across many decades, that that also tends to depress interest, it tends to depress voter turnout when there’s just no chance that anyone else is going to win.”
For the 2020 general election, Arkansas’ voter turnout rate was 56.1% for the state’s eligible voter population. Only Oklahoma ranked behind Arkansas in voter turnout in 2020, according to the United States Election Project. In the last midterm elections in 2018, Arkansas’s rate was 41.3% for the state’s eligible voter population. Only Hawaii was below Arkansas for voter turnout in 2018.
Executive Director of Common Ground Arkansas Misty Orpin said midterms usually have significantly lower turnout compared to presidential elections.
“Midterm elections also get overlooked as well, the November general election is very important, we are hoping people pay attention and we are doubling our voting registration efforts as well,” Orpin said.
However, the local and state races decided during the midterm elections can be consequential for Arkansans.
“We see more and more power being delegated to the legislators by the Supreme Court and their own efforts to get more power so those state legislative races are so important,” Oprin said.
Dr. Parry said some recent issues could bring more people to cast their ballot in 2022, such as the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
“I think we may see a surge among, you know, women here as well but other states will also see a surge,” Parry said.
Parry also said even the historical nature of the gubernatorial race in the state probably won’t be a big boost to voter turnout.
“Almost all statewide races and Arkansas are now won by the Republican by 30 points, even the historic aspect of both of these major party candidates, I think it’s just not enough,” Parry said.
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