Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 4 News List

US Election: 2004 election could draw biggest voter turnout in decades

AP , WASHINGTON

Intense voter registration drives and keen interest in the US presidential race contest put Tuesday's election on track to draw the heaviest turnout in years. Officials were watching whether it would approach the 1960 benchmark, when about two-thirds of eligible voters came out to back John Kennedy or Richard Nixon.

An estimated 117.5 million to 121 million people were expected to cast votes on Tuesday, which, if forecasts were correct, would be 58 percent to 60 percent of eligible voters.

Slightly more than 51 percent of voters, about 105.4 million, cast ballots in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore.

Former President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election bid drew only 49 percent of eligible voters, about 96.3 million. But Clinton's 1992 race for the White House against the first President George H.W. Bush brought out 55.2 percent, about 104.4 million.

In a sampling of states:

In John Kerry's home state, Massachusetts, Secretary of State William Galvin expected turnout to hit a record high of 3 million.

A record 1.7 million Arkansans registered to vote in this year's election, and Secretary of State Charlie Daniels expected 70 percent turnout.

The Iowa Secretary of State's office reported "tremendous" numbers of absentee ballots, surpassing 500,000, up from 277,077 in 2000.

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land expected about the same percentage of residents to vote as in 2000, but that means more people because registration is up.

Battleground Pennsylvania experienced record voter registrations; officials waited to see whether that would translate into record turnout.

A record 7.5 million Illinois residents were registered to vote.

A record 12 million Californians were expected to vote, while officials in battleground Wisconsin predicted a 75 percent turnout of eligible voters, up from a little more than 63 percent in 2000.

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