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Voter Turnout

Variable Definitions:
Voter Turnout Rate: The percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot in the general election

California Statewide Database, General Elections Data

Years Available:
2008, 2012, 2016

Why are these variables important to measure?

Voter Turnout Rate
Voting is an important part of political participation and civic engagement in a democracy.

The United States ranks 31st out of the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in voter turnout rates, and California ranks relatively poorly compared to other states within the U.S. Additionally, voting in the U.S. in unevenly distributed across race and class lines, with white and wealthier Americans voting at much higher rates than low-income people and people of color. This can be particularly consequential in local elections, where higher voter participation from low-income communities of color could have the largest impact on results.

A low voter turnout rate in an area could indicate a need for increased education around voting registration and processes or voter registration campaigns.

Desilver, Drew. “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout.” Pew Research Center, 15 May 2017. Link.

Hajnal, Zoltan L. “Where does America’s low voter turnout matter the most? In local elections.” Washington Post, 24 March 2015. Link.

McDonald, Michael P. “2016 November General Election Turnout Rates.” United States Elections Project, 2016. Link.

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