On Voters Not Voting – Part II: The Demographics

Only 67% or all eligible voters are even registered to vote.  That is only two out of every three adults.  In Part I of this project, I looked at the reasons people gave for not voting, some of which were ludicrous, such as “forgot”, “weather”, and “too busy”.  But there are some legitimate reasons that people do not vote.  To understand these, I think it is important to look at some of the demographics of the non-voters.

Race

Among white voters, 73.5% of eligible voters did actually vote in 2016.  But minorities were much less likely to vote, with only 69.7% of African-Americans, 59.4% of Latinos, and the lowest group being Asians at 55.3%.

Age

Not surprisingly, the percentage of eligible voters who vote increases with age:

Age 18 to 24       58.5%

Age 25 to 34       66.4%

Age 35 to 44       69.9%

Age 45 to 54       73.5%

Age 55 to 64       76.6%

Age 65 to 74       78.1%

Age 75 or older 76.6%

I suspect, with the heightened awareness of young people in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February, we will see an increase in the 18-24 age group this November.

Education

There is absolutely nothing surprising in this set of statistics:

Less than high school graduate  50.5%

High school graduate      64.1%

Some college     75.3%

Bachelor’s degree            81.2%

Advanced degree            85.8%

Income

Again, no real surprises here:

Income less than $20,000              63.7%

$20,000 to $29,999          67.1%

$30,000 to $39,999          71.1%

$40,000 to $49,999          72.6%

$50,000 to $74,999          78.2%

$75,000 to $99,999          81.9%

$100,000 and over          79.6%

While this one isn’t surprising, it is disturbing, for the very people who most need fairness from our government are the least likely to vote to make a difference.

Taken together, when we look at the demographics, look at who is and who isn’t voting, is it any wonder that we currently have a government that is “Of the wealthy white people, By the wealthy white people, and For the wealthy white people”?  They are the ones who vote!

All of the above statistics are understandable when put into context.  There are a number of things that have led to the disenfranchisement of lower income and minority voters.  Consider gerrymandering, redistricting states so that most minorities are grouped into as few as districts as possible so as to be given a much weaker voice than their white counterparts.  I have shared this graphic before, but it is still the clearest, most understandable explanation of how gerrymandering can change the outcome of an election:And then there are the various efforts by many states to make it more difficult for lower income and minorities to vote, such as shortening the hours that polls are open, and closing polling places in poorer or predominantly minority areas. Twenty states do not allow a person convicted of a felony to vote while serving a sentence or while on probation.  Two states, Florida and Virginia, permanently disallow convicted felons voting privileges.

In some cases, voter I.D. may be difficult to obtain.  Consider these cases:

A 96-year-old woman in Tennessee was denied a voter-ID card despite presenting four forms of identification, including her birth certificate. A World War II veteran was turned away in Ohio because his Department of Veterans Affairs photo ID didn’t include his address. Andrea Anthony, a 37-year-old black woman from Wisconsin who had voted in every major election since she was 18, couldn’t vote in 2016 because she had lost her driver’s license a few days before. – New York Times, 10 March 2018

In 1965, Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, perhaps the single most important piece of legislation to come from the Civil Rights movement.  It eliminated certain barriers to voting, such as literacy testing and other requirements that denied many blacks the right to vote.  Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act precluded certain states and districts that had a history of disenfranchising blacks, from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C.  But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.  Chief Justice John Roberts said, essentially, that times had changed and the Court believed racial discrimination was no longer the problem it was in the 1960s.  Almost immediately on the heels of this ruling, Texas announced new voter identification laws and redistricting maps.  Other states in the South followed suit.

Referring back to Part I of this project, we looked at some of the reasons people gave for not voting.  When we look at the 6% who said they did not vote due to ‘registration problems’, or the 2.7% who claimed ‘inconvenient polling place’, or the 2.6% who said they had ‘transportation problems’, perhaps we can understand those reasons.  Consider the single mom who is not allowed to take time off work, so she goes to vote after work. The polling station in her neighborhood closed last year, so she now has to take a bus to her new polling place 45 minutes away from where she works.  Meanwhile, her children are home alone with nobody to cook their supper, or supervise them.  What would you do?

It is obvious that there are some people who do not vote with good reason.  We need to find solutions to the barriers for minorities and others who are truly disenfranchised.  We also need to find ways to inspire and motivate those who make excuses not to vote, to convince them that their vote is important.  And we need to make voting more accessible to all.  In Part III, we will take a look at some things that may contribute to increasing the numbers of people who vote.  There is no single panacea, but I believe there are a number of things that can be done at the federal and state levels, as well as by people like me and you, people who care about our country.  Stay tuned …

This is Part II of a 3-part project on Voters not Voting.  Part III will look at some things that can be done to help solve the problem and get people to the polls on November 6th.

32 thoughts on “On Voters Not Voting – Part II: The Demographics

  1. This would have pitchforks and burning brands out in the UK, and I would be with them.
    There cannot be democracy with such nit-picking restrictions. It’s painfully obvious what the intention is.
    “We don’t want ‘that sort’ of person voting, where will it all end?”
    Hypocrisy

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: On Voters Not Voting – Part III: Solutions | Filosofa's Word

  3. This is ridiculous! No wonder politicians are pulling a fast one us. I will admit though, I am beyond frustrated with some of the people in my generation. They complain and don’t vote. Some good that does. (I’m 21, btw). Don’t mean to generalize, but that’s my experience with many of my friends.

    -Knurly

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, it IS frustrating, but you obviously have your head on straight … perhaps you can gently & subtly convince your friends? We have to try … if we keep letting the wealthy, white people be the majority of voters, we will never see equality for all in this country.

      Like

        • That, my friend, is a part of human nature. Some people will always be content to sit back and let others do the ‘heavy lifting’ for them while they whine and complain. Others will always be the first ones to roll up their sleeves and ask what needs to be done first. Just the way of the world. The key right now is to make it personal for those who seem to not care, to make them understand how it affects them personally, for then and only then will they be motivated to act.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. A lot of voters are disenfranchised because of one reason or another. It’s a tragedy but its a reality. I am hoping the Parkland folks will get a ton of new voters on the rolls who will go out and actually vote this November.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they definitely have the momentum to make a difference among the young people! And I am encouraged by that, but we still have the middle-aged people who are simply sick of it all. How do we motivate them?

      Like

  5. Jill, well done. I have shared this with our NC legislators’ whose Voter ID Law was overturned due to its unconstitutionality. The problem is not voter fraud, the problem is not enough people voting. But, based on the efforts of ALEC who provides templated language to conservative government leaders, the goal is to suppress the non-white vote. When I called the eventual Voter ID Law as “Jim
    Crow-like, one of its drafters ripped me a new one. That law was ruled unconstitutional due to its laserlike focus on racial discrimination. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Keith!!! You’re right … ‘voter fraud’ is not the problem and that has been proven more than once, yet King Donnie and his royal sycophants continue to scream it loudly for all to hear. I’m proud of you for calling it like it is … a 21st century version of Jim Crow. Given half a chance, I think a lot of states would like to return to the days of literacy tests. Thanks again for your kind words.

      Like

  6. I have a listing of homeowners and rental units in the town in which I live..and together with other “ladies” from the Resist Movement in OK, go door to door and hand out voter registration papers..we will offer to assist in filling them out, and we then offer a ride to the polling places on voting days. You’d be amazed how many do not vote because they thought they “weren’t allowed to vote” after having misdemeanor convictions! Of course, those that said that to us were people of color. I can not begin to express how angry that makes me.

    Liked by 4 people

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