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Who’s Voting–and Why Others Don’t

Who’s Voting–and Why Others Don’t

According to a report recently released by the US Census Bureau, the 2018 midterm election saw an historic increase in voter turnout. “Voter turnout went up among all voting age and major racial and ethnic groups. Fifty-three percent of the citizen voting-age population voted in 2018, the highest midterm turnout in four decades, while the 2014 election had the lowest,” the report says.

The country’s youngest voters and Hispanics led the way with significantly increased participation. Here are some statistical headlines from the report:

  • 18- to 29-year-olds produced a 79 percent jump in turnout.
  • Hispanics contributed a 50 percent increase.
  • Non-Hispanic black voter turnout increased by 11 points.
  • Voter turnout for those living in metropolitan areas was up 12 points, and greater than for those living in nonmetropolitan areas.
  • Voting for both native-born and naturalized citizens increased by 12 percentage points.
  • Those with less than a high school education only saw a 5 percent increase, while votes from those with a high school diploma increased by 8 percent.

But what about the ALICE voter? When broken out by income, voter lack of participation is governed by three main factors – health, time, and lack of interest. For ALICE households – at income levels between less than $10,000 up to $49,999 – the biggest obstacle to voting is classified as, “too busy, conflicting schedule.” This was the case for up to 27% of households in the ALICE income range, and is not surprising when you consider that many ALICE families are juggling childcare and perhaps several jobs.

From a disability/health perspective and its impact on voter turnout, there is clearly a correlation between income and health. At any income level below $49,999 the percentage of families not participating in the election is a double-digit percentage – between 13.4% to 23.5%. Households earning more than $50,000 show significantly fewer instances of nonparticipation due to health – 6.4% to 10.4%.

Only those households earning less than $10,000 annually said in significant numbers that getting transportation to their polling place kept them for voting.

Finally, there is the “not interested” category. Apathy is not confined to ALICE households. All income levels fall into this category at an average rate of about 16%. Yet, while ALICE households might not vote because of a belief that their vote doesn’t really count, their participation is needed to solve the problems they struggle with every day, like transportation, housing, childcare, and education.

read the report