I just voted by mail here in Oregon, and I was curious whether Oregon's voting by mail system produces a higher than average turnout. It seems it may, but it is hard to tell because Oregon, historically, always has had a much higher than average turnout. Over the past 30-some years it has ranked around 6th.
In the 2010 election Oregon was 9th, but in 2012, with a 64 percent turnout, the state dropped to 14th, but it was an election, with a 57 percent turnout national average, one of the highest turnouts in the past 50 years.
The most interesting thing I discovered in looking at historical data, is that turnout in non-Presidential elections started dropping rather dramatically after 1970. This may explain why our Congress has become so dysfunctional. As far back as the 1940s voter turnout in non-Presidential elections had averaged percents in the mid 40s, often fairly close to 50 percent.
But in 1974, turnout dropped to 37 percent, and it generally has been below that ever since. Presidential election turnout also declined some but in recent elections has trended upwards.
If barely more than a third of our electorate are voting in non-Presidential elections, it is not hard for a dedicated group to gain substantial power, as we have seen with the Tea Party.
Progressive Democrats must learn from this and get out the progressive vote - young people, women, minorities and those among us older white men who have seen the light.