Monday, January 07, 2013

Cheshire's local election turnout history (1979 - 2011)

As many of you probably know, I returned to school last August. One of the classes I took this semester was Statistics. The climax of the class was a project of my choice.

So what would I choose for a statistical analysis?

Decisions, decisions... what topic would interest me? What data set could I find? But of course, this wasn't that difficult a choice:

Cheshire elections!

Getting the data was time-consuming... probably at least 20 to 25 hours in the Town Clerk's Office. But it was worth it to me. And I hope others use it too.

Although I've pulled together a bunch of data, I first offer you the turnout results for all local elections from 1979 to 2011. This was of particular interest to me because I know that the % of voter turnout has been decreasing in recent years. But I wanted a slightly better understanding of that falling number.

Here is the trend of % voter turnout for the period:
I was surprised by the huge increase in turnout from 1985 to 1989. Those were my Dodd and high school years (Class of 1990). And I really don't recall the likely reasons for that spike. I'll ask around, but do any of you happen to know?

The second trend I offer is not particularly surprising, but it is an important factor in the above trend's falling percentages. This chart shows the increase in registered voters over the period:
For me, the surprising part of this trend was that registered voters increased by 57% over the period. I simply had never really thought about our town's population increase since I was a kid.

The last trend is the one that surprised me. The total number of voters who participate in local elections has fluctuated relatively little over the past three decades.  The actual turnout in 1979 is really not that different from the 2011 turnout. And most years actually had a turnout between 6000 and 7000:

If you want to see the raw data by year and by district, click here. I'm not very adept with google docs, but you should be able to access the data spreadsheet. And if you want to manipulate the data, just copy and paste it into excel. Then you can generate your own charts, such as by district.

As for the data source, 1979 to 2009 was taken from the Election Records in the Town Clerk's Office. 2011 wasn't in the records yet though. So I got those numbers from the Registrar's Office. Also, I can't say this data is 100% perfect. But I made a good faith effort at confirming data accuracy and am confident that the trends are accurate.

Hope you find this interesting!

Tim White

1 comment:

Tim White said...

I looked at the 1989 election results and have heard back from some people who were elected officials in the late 80s.

The best guess is that the increased turnout related to a referenda. And in 1989, one particular referenda stands out... $38.9 million for a new middle school to replace Dodd.