Voter turnout in the United States is much lower than in other countries, hovering around 60% in presidential elections and 40% in midterm election years. The debate on how to address the persistently low voter turnout is intensifying ahead of the midterm elections. Data on voter turnout is reliable because every vote is counted, and it tends to be higher during presidential elections compared to congressional, senate, and local elections. The MIT Electoral Science and Data Laboratory is a clearing house for data sets that can boost studies on elections and how they are conducted.
This work aims to support advances in electoral science by collecting, analyzing and sharing fundamental data and findings. The special tabulation on the voting age of citizens by race and ethnicity (CVAP) was originally created from the 2000 Census form and was published in 2002 for use in analyzing the right to vote. At the request of the Department of Justice, the U. S.
Census Bureau began publishing a special annual CVAP tabulation based on five-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). Both the special tabulation and the later versions of the ACS are published by geographical groups in blocks. Voter turnout at the county level is heavily impacted by state laws, which may restrict or support access to voting, and should not be considered a reflection of the will or motivation for civic participation. Citizenship is necessary to vote at the national, state and municipal levels, even though U. citizens are not eligible to vote in all elections.
As an indicator of civic participation, voter turnout does not reflect the contributions of non-citizens to the civic health of a community. In addition, voter turnout does not reflect the civic participation of people who have lost their right to vote due to certain interactions with the judicial system or because of mental disability. Voter turnout is overestimated in places where the eligible population is significantly smaller than the voting-age citizen population. This data will be updated infrequently as presidential elections are held every four years. The voter turnout measure, calculated as the percentage of citizens of voting age, may underestimate the voter turnout of those with the right to vote, which excludes people who do not have citizenship, are mentally incapacitated, or have been convicted of a serious crime (according to state law).Voter turnout reflects a combination of a community's civic participation and privilege, which extends through civic infrastructure and barriers built to support or hinder that participation.
Voter turnout does not directly measure civic infrastructure such as unexcused absentee voting, protected labor flexibilities on election day, or available and accessible polling centers that support voter participation, nor structural barriers including restrictions related to voter registration that hinder voter participation. In conclusion, there are many factors that can influence voter turnout in the United States. These include state laws that restrict or support access to voting, citizenship requirements for voting at national, state and municipal levels, as well as civic infrastructure and barriers built to support or hinder participation.