Despite reports of long lines and difficulty with voting machines, voter turnout on Tuesday was the highest in more than 30 years, with young people showing up to the polls in record numbers.
Americans came out to vote in record numbers regardless of how they felt about the election’s results; both sides were successful in mobilizing their supporters.
Out of about 193 million eligible voters, more than 115 million showed up to the polls on Nov. 2, according to CNN. That’s a 59.5 percent turnout, 8.2 percent more than the 2000 election. When absentee and provisional ballots are finished being counted, that figure may be as high as 117 million.
“The last time we saw election activity [in Philadelphia] like we’re seeing now was in 1983,” said Fred Voigt, Executive Director of the Committee of Seventy, a non-partisan political watchdog in Philadelphia.
The numbers should come as no surprise. The surge in voter registration, fueled by the perceived importance of this year’s race, increased the total voter turnout by 10 million voters, according to Federal Election Commission. Young voters in particular saw the greatest turnout in more than a decade: 21 million Americans under the age of 30 voted this year, up from 16.4 million in the last presidential election.
“Obviously, voters are people who are more interested in politics – people who see politics as more relevant to their daily lives,” said Michael Hagan, director of the Institute of Public Affairs at Temple.
To make politics seem more relevant, college students were bombarded by images of P. Diddy and other celebrities telling them to “vote or die,” and volunteers with clipboards asking every passerby whether they had “registered to vote?”
In the end, these extensive get-out-the-vote efforts seem to have had a significant impact. Youth voter turnout on Election Day broke records across the United States, with many expecting the increase to work to Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry’s advantage.
Voters aged 30 and up, however, voted predominantly for President George W. Bush, along with the majority of white Protestants and military families, attracted by his conservative views and hawkish stance on national defense.
As in past elections, minority voters favored the Democrats as well: 90 percent of blacks and 65 percent of Latino citizens voted for Kerry. Kerry also won New York and New Jersey, the states most affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and described as most at-risk for another attack in the future.