ADDISON COUNTY — On Town Meeting Day, how did voter turnout vary across Addison County? And how did this year’s numbers compare to past years?
To answer these questions, the Independent pulled the figures for the percent of registered voters casting votes in Australian ballot elections in eight towns over the past five Town Meeting Days — dating back to 2008 — and compared the number of voters with the number of registered voters for a given year.
Voter turnout for all eight towns over the five-year aggregate was highest in 2008, when the Democratic and Republican primaries both featured competitive races. The only town that had a recent year rivaling 2008 turnout was Lincoln, where 64 percent of total registered voters came out in 2011 to weigh in on a $2 million bond for school construction — that was just shy of the 64.4 percent who voted in 2008.
Of all eight towns, Lincoln had the highest voter turnout this year, with 41.3 percent of registered voters showing up at the polls. The hot-ticket item on this year’s ballot in Lincoln was a three-way race for town treasurer. But high voter turnouts aren’t unusual for Lincoln. Of all the surveyed towns, Lincoln also had the highest five-year average for voter turnouts, with 46.3 percent of voters coming out.
Middlebury had the lowest average Town Meeting Day turnout over the past five years, with 25.18 percent of total registered voters weighing in. Middlebury’s voter turnout this year, however, was above average with 26.1 percent of voters heading to the polls. Last Tuesday’s elections in Middlebury featured a number of big items, including a $4.6 million fire station bond, a five-way selectboard race for two seats, and a $1 million Middlebury Union Middle School roof bond, among other items.
The Independent survey pulled from the county’s four most populous towns, according to the 2010 census; three towns that represent different regions of the county; and Brandon. Those towns and their populations are:
• Middlebury, with 8,496 people and 4,598 registered voters this year.
• Bristol, with 3,894 people and 2,672 registered voters.
• Ferrisburgh, with 2,775 people and 2,040 registered voters.
• Vergennes, with 2,588 people and 1,493 registered voters.
• Lincoln, with 1,271 people and 1,000 registered voters.
• Addison, with 1,371 people and 972 registered voters.
• Salisbury, with 1,136 people and 808 registered voters.
• And Brandon, with 3,966 people and 2,811 registered voters.
The average voter turnout over the past five years was:
• Middlebury, 25.18 percent.
• Bristol, 33.9 percent.
• Ferrisburgh, 32.08 percent.
• Vergennes, 32.64 percent.
• Lincoln, 46.3 percent.
• Addison, 36.72 percent.
• Salisbury, 33.08 percent.
• And Brandon, 35.16 percent.
See the graph for a better view of how voter turnouts varied over the past five years.