Student turnout low in 2002 election

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

Brookings County experienced a slightly lower voter turnout than the state average for the general election last week, according to the Brookings County Auditor’s Office.

This turnout may be attributed to a low turnout from Brookings precincts that include the SDSU campus. However, state laws that regulate the removal of inactive voters may indicate a highly inaccurate amount of registered voters due to the highly mobile nature of college students.

According to the Brookings County Auditor’s Office, Brookings County reported a turnout of 59.4 percent of registered voters, compared to about 61.3 percent statewide.

When only active voters, those who have voted within the past four years, are taken into account, the county’s turnout was 67.8 percent, compared to the 71.5 percent turnout level throughout the state of South Dakota.

The Brookings precincts that contain portions of the SDSU campus had a lower turnout than the rest of Brookings County.

Brookings Precinct One, which is the area north of Sixth Street and east of Medary Avenue, had 523 voters out of 1,811 total registered voters for a 28.9 percent voter turnout.

Brookings Precinct Two, the area north of Sixth Street and west of Medary Avenue, had 939 voters out of 1,937 total registered voters, for a turnout of about 48.5 percent.

The difference between the two precincts can probably be attributed to the higher number of non-student residences in the second precinct, according to the auditor’s office.

Comparison to past elections for individual precincts is not feasible, as the city of Brookings was reorganized into six voting precincts this year, as opposed to five precincts in prior elections.

Despite the low turnout in these precincts, it is difficult to conclude that SDSU students did not actively vote for two reasons.

First, many of the registered voters in the two precincts may have been SDSU students who no longer reside in those precincts and have not been removed from the list of registered voters.

In addition, many SDSU students may have voted absentee in their home counties.

Of the 19,360 total registered voters in Brookings County, 16, 962 of them are active voters. However, the Auditor’s Office does not have statistics of active voters by precinct.