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N.D. voter turnout lowest for June election since at least 1980

BISMARCK – Voter turnout barely cracked 17 percent for Tuesday’s election in North Dakota, the lowest turnout for a June election since at least 1980.

With all 427 precincts reporting, voters cast 93,377 ballots for a turnout rate of 17.13 percent, based on the estimate of 545,020 North Dakotans of voting age used by the secretary of state’s office. North Dakota is the only state with no voter registration.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Tuesday that voter turnout in June elections has historically been around 20 percent, though it reached as high as 33 percent in 2012 when voters rejected a measure to abolish property taxes and approved a separate measure to retire the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname.

After Tuesday’s turnout, the next lowest turnout for a June election since 1980 was 19 percent in 2004. June election turnout was 20 percent in both 2008 and 2010.

Jaeger said he expected local election races and issues to drive voter turnout on Tuesday. There was only one statewide measure on the ballot, a constitutional amendment that changed the filing deadline for initiated petition signatures from 90 days to 120 days before a statewide election.

Voters approved the measure by a vote of 43,757 to 37,940, or about 54 percent to 46 percent.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said Wednesday that North Dakota’s recent population growth -- the state hit a record-high estimated population of 723,393 on July 1 of last year -- may have been a factor in Tuesday’s low turnout. But he quickly added, "We're not saying the turnout was good by any stretch of the imagination."

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at