TN Had Second Lowest Voter Turnout in Nation Last Year

Tennessee had the second-lowest voter turnout rate in the nation in last November’s congressional election, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey released Wednesday and reported by The Tennessean.
Just 37.7 percent of Tennessee citizens over 18 voted. Only Texas, with 36.4 percent, had a lower rate.
Last year’s state rate is also the lowest in a congressional election since 1998. More than 45 percent of Tennesseans voted in 2006 and 2002.
The figures are estimates taken from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
Bruce Oppenheimer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, says the state’s low 2010 turnout can be explained by a lack of high-profile, closely contested races.
“We had a very noncompetitive gubernatorial race, and we didn’t have a U.S. Senate race last year, so we were largely depending on the middle of the ticket to drive interest for the top of the ticket, and that doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
Oppenheimer said races were competitive in just two congressional districts — the 4th District represented by Rep. Scott DesJarlais and the 8th District represented by Rep. Stephen Fincher.
Census Bureau surveys dating back to 1990 show Tennessee has consistently ranked lower than most states in congressional election turnout. It has numbered among the bottom 15 in all but the 2002 election.

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