How low will we go? That’s the question many politicians are asking this year when it comes to voter turnout. It’s been dropping steadily year after year, usually only spiking when there is a presidential candidate at the top of the ticket. This year, not only are there no statewide candidates but there are not state Senators on the ballot. (State Senators are elected every four years; state Assembly members are voted into office every two years.) Thus, most politicians expect a very low turnout, although there is always room for surprise.
The last time the state Assembly topped the ticket was in 1999, when 31 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Last year, in which there was a statewide election for Democrat Cory Booker, 35 percent of people went to the polls.
Of course, things have changed since 2011 (and 1999), in that there is more local activity than in the past. In most municipalities, school-board elections have been moved from the spring to general election day, in an attempt to increase turnout for both. It remains to be seen if that change will have any impact this year.