Skip to page body Home About Community Living Doing Business Browse by Topic I Want to... Your Government

Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

News Review
NEWS RELEASE: Secretary of State Ritchie Refutes Census Bureau Claims on Voting Turnout
Posted Date: 5/9/2013


CONTACT: DENNIS SMITH (651) 297-8919


ST. PAUL, MN— May 9, 2013—Secretary of State Mark Ritchie disputed claims by the U.S. Census Bureau that Minnesota voting turnout rate had slipped from first in the nation to third, following the states of Mississippi and Wisconsin.

“We rely on the actual data that comes from Election Day and this has proven for decades to be the most accurate reflection of eligible voter turnout,” says Ritchie. “Minnesota voters delivered the highest turnout rate of eligible voters in the nation in 2012 as reported last fall. In that election, we also saw a record turnout in our state’s history.”

According to the Census Bureau, its Current Population Survey is a statistical calculation based on a limited number of self-reporting households, including only civilian, non-institutionalized people living in the United States — excluding millions of voters, including military and overseas voters, college students and nursing home residents. The bureau reports non-responses to the voting question as a no-vote.

“Criticism of their methodology is widespread, and the report simply is not an accurate reflection of voter turnout,” says Ritchie.

According to a statement by the Pew Research Center in response to the survey, “The gap between the voter turnout reported by the Census Bureau and the actual national vote tallied by election officials widened in 2012. According to the Bureau’s 2012 Current Population Survey November Supplement on Voting and Registration, an estimated 133 million U.S. citizens voted in 2012. That estimate is higher—by 4 million votes—than the national tally of 129 million votes cast for president.”

The 2012 General Election Turnout Rates report, published by the U.S. Election Project at George Mason University, is considered the most accurate measurement of voting results in the county. It compares official voter data provided by election officials based on actual voter turnout on Election Day. The 2012 report provides the following data for 2012 eligible voter turnout:

· Minnesota — 75.7 percent (number-one in the nation)

· Wisconsin — 72.5 percent

· Mississippi — 59.7 percent

Ritchie notes that Census Bureau report has great value in measuring relative percentages of turnout by race, gender and age. However, the bureau’s report describes some of the challenges of interpreting survey data because there is always a great risk of error due to the nature of “the respondent’s interpretation of a question, willingness and ability to provide correct and accurate answers. “

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Ritchie is Minnesota’s 21st secretary of state. A press photo for media is available online.