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Wisconsin’s voter turnout was high in this November’s election, but still lower than 2018

Initial numbers indicate at least 2.65M Wisconsinites voted in the midterms

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A man puts a ballot into a counting machine as other voters line up behind him.
Julian Lutz submits his ballot Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the New Glarus Village Hall in New Glarus, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Turnout in last week’s election appears to have been exceptionally high for a midterm, although it was still outpaced by Wisconsin’s record voter participation four years ago.

In the race for governor, 56.75 percent of the state’s estimated population of eligible voters cast ballots in the race for governor, according to unofficial figures published by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Statewide turnout was higher this fall — both in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of eligible voters — than any other midterm election going back decades with the exception of 2018, according to the Election Commission’s data.

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In 2018, Wisconsin turnout smashed records for a year without a presidential ticket on the ballot, when 59.43 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s race for governor, in which Democrat Tony Evers narrowly won his first term and unseated Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Barry Burden, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attributed high turnout in recent congressional elections in part to the effect of former President Donald Trump, who was elected in 2016.

“Increasing turnout everywhere, not just in Wisconsin, really is a phenomenon that happened after Trump took office,” said Burden, who directs the university’s Elections Research Center. “He’s no longer in office, but I think is enough of a presence in American politics and it was enough of a factor in this year’s elections that it continued to bring out lots of Democratic voters and lots of Republican voters.”

In Wisconsin, Evers once again claimed victory on Tuesday, with unofficial results showing him fending off Republican challenger Tim Michels by about 3 percentage points. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul also won reelection Tuesday against Republican Eric Toney and incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson squeezed out a win against Democrat Mandela Barnes.

Although vote totals are unofficial until they’re certified in the coming weeks, numbers tallied from The Associated Press as of Friday indicate at least 2.65 million Wisconsinites voted in this fall’s race for governor.

That’s close to 19,500 fewer voters compared to the number that cast ballots in the 2018 race.

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