Turnout is usually off in non-presidential elections, but this year's numbers were "abysmally low," carps the New York Times in an editorial. In fact, they were very nearly historically low. You have to go back 72 years to find a worse percentage for national turnout—this year's figure was 36.3% vs. 33.9% in 1942. The editors blame "apathy, anger, and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns," but they also see one big area ripe for improvement.
Generally speaking, states that made the voting process easier for residents had better turnout. Colorado, for instance, allowed people to vote by mail for the first time and ended up No. 4 in the nation. Early voting also seems to help. The formula for better turnout, then, is easy to state if not execute: "Politicians need to stop suppressing the vote, make the process of voting as easy as possible, and run campaigns that stand for something." Click for the full editorial.