Good question. The U.S. Elections Project publishes detailed state-by-state turnout data, and they calculate voter turnout by dividing the number of votes cast for highest office by the voting-eligible population. In 2008, national turnout was 61.6%.
In the 2010 midterm election that number was 40.8%–a drop of over 20%, which translates to almost 42 million voters.
It’s true that historically, turnout for a midterm election is lower than for a presidential election. But a difference of 42 million voters demonstrates that the need for nonprofit involvement in voter engagement work has never been more apparent.
On Monday we urged nonprofits to consider including civic engagement in their 2011 work plans. A big part of that is voter engagement work. Your nonprofit can use the connections it has with clients, constituents, volunteers, and community members to increase the number of registered voters, as well as the number of voters who turn out on election day. It benefits your nonprofit and your community at large to have active, involved citizens participating at high rates.