Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote… that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country – Samuel Adams

VotingPoster
Government poster encouraging voting from the 1950s.

Despite months of terrorist attacks leading up to the election, including suicide attacks on voting centers, seven million Afghans – representing 60 percent of eligible voters – waited in line for hours to cast ballots on April 5, 2014.

Seven months later, facing none of the perils braved by Afghan voters, 37.3 percent of registered voters in West Virginia went to the polls – the lowest in more than 60 years. In Pocahontas County, where voting rates are normally respectable, just 48.7 percent of voters cast ballots – the lowest number in at least 10 years.

In Pocahontas County, 5,307 voters were registered to vote in the most recent election. Just 2,585 of those voters made it to the polls during early voting and Election Day. As seen in the accompanying graph, midterm elections normally have lower voter turnout than general elections, but this year’s voter participation was especially dismal.

According to the United States Election Project, general election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest of any election cycle since World War II. As of Election Day, just 36.4 percent of eligible voters in the U.S. had cast ballots. The last time turnout was so low for a midterm election was 1942, when 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Voting in midterm elections has steadily declined since 1964, when turnout was nearly 49 percent.

This year, Maine reported the highest turnout in the nation, with 59 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. Indiana had the lowest turnout, with 28 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.