Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Whatcom County "Turn Out" 2005 - 2010 Part I

This post is probably designed for serious politicos...The rest of you may want to spare yourself the brain drain of my numbers and less than snazy Open Office charts. -RMF

[Note: The data and graphs below are the work of one [unpaid] blogger with the help of  SQL Server Express, SQL Management Studio, Open Office, and Powershell. My work comes with no promises or guarantees. Please verify the data for your purposes. For my purposes, "registered voters" includes only those voters whose ballot had a disposition of some type (e.g. not a blank 'VotingMethodDesc' field) and "turn out" is defined only by a successful  disposition (e.g. 'Provisional voter' or 'Voted By Mail Ballot'). See the Methodology worksheet of my data for more information. ]

"Registered Voters" and election "Turn Out" numbers in Whatcom County appear to have averaged growth more than twice as fast per year from 2005 - 2010 as the population increase (20.6%)  for the last decade (2000 - 2010). Some precincts have seen over 500 new registered voters since the 2005 General Election. Whether this is more attributable to

(A)"Vote By Mail" efficiencies or
(B) the hyper-charged political climate of Bellingham and Whatcom County or
(C) urban and rural growth and annexations  or
(D) all of the above,

I do not know.  However, a few hours spent in SQL Server Management Studio [see spreadsheet here] demonstrates the current impressive responsiveness of the Whatcom County electorate to their civic obligation to vote:

Many precints in Whatcom County "turned out" over 70% in the 2010 General Election.

These are the valid registration numbers that I came up with at the point of each General Election from 2005 - 2010. There are now reputedly  117,000 registrants for the upcoming 2011 election. (The auditor's office may have recently pruned this from over 118,000...) Below, note the turnout spike from the 2008 General Election (of Barack Obama):

Where have all the new registrants come from and are they voting?  Yes, many of them are voting and the increases in registrants appear to be county wide. Some precincts have seen increases  of 500 of more registered voters from 2005 - 2010.  Many of these precincts are recent urban annexations or rural county areas. (See 1,2,3)

Looking below at the "Top 20 Precincts Increase in Turnout between 2005 - 2010"  we see:

Precincts from Whatcom County: 109,102,149,128,103,141,130,150
Precincts from Bellingham: 209,201,208,204
Precncts from Ferndale: 604,602,605,501,504,502

Venturing into even more granular analysis of voting trends, if we compare five year increases in registration and turnout of  the 48 Bellingham Precincts with the 73 ROC ("Rest of County") precincts, we see strong registration and turn out increases in Bellingham and "ROC", with exceptionally strong increases in "turn out" in "ROC" precincts:

[Registration Increases for 2005-2010 (REGINC5Y) and Turnout increases for 2005-2010 (TOINC5Y)]

totals 12,556 11,290
per prec ave 261.58 235.2

totals 16,788 18,564
per prec ave 229.97 254.3

There are now reputedly  117,000 registrants for the upcoming 2011 election next November 8th. The local election includes a tight mayor's race, a 'conservatives only' County Executive race, a Sheriff's race, county and city council races, an initiative to stop Red Light Cameras, and lots of discussion about Gateway Pacific Terminal. Be interesting to see what the turnout numbers will be!

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