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States with the highest and lowest rates of voter registration

  • States with the highest and lowest rates of voter registration

    It might seem like Election Day is still far away, but Nov. 3 will roll around before we know it. And amid all the election news, campaign ads playing nonstop on TV, and fierce debates happening on social media, it’s all too easy to miss out on a date that’s arguably just as important as Election Day itself: voter registration deadlines.

    These dates vary from state to state. In Alaska and Arkansas, for example, voter registration forms must be postmarked 30 days before Election Day, while California has the requirement set for 15 days before Election Day. You can check your state’s voter registration deadlines at Vote.org.

    Even though voter registration deadlines are relatively easy to find, they pass by without many Americans even realizing it. In fact, only around 157.6 million Americans were registered to vote in 2016, and just 153.07 million were registered in 2018, according to Census data via Statista.

    What’s more, even fewer people actually voted in those elections. This report from April 23, 2019, shows that about 53.4% of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2018, and one from May 17, 2017, shows that 61.4% of eligible voters participated in the 2016 election. With such an intense presidential election coming up in just a few weeks, politicians and everyday citizens are keeping a close eye on the voter rolls in every state. So how have states done in the past when it comes to voter registration?

    Stacker used data from the U.S. Census Bureau Voting and Registration database, updated every two years, to rank the states based on their rates of voter registration and voting. Each state is ranked by percent of people registered to vote in 2018, and ties are broken by the number of people who actually voted that year. Since 2018 was a midterm election year, Stacker also included voter registration and voting statistics from the last presidential election in 2016. Since 2020 voter registration is currently underway, these former statistics can paint a picture of the likely percentage of a state’s population that will turn out on Election Day.

    Wondering how your state’s voter rolls are faring ahead of the November general election? Click through to see which states have the lowest and highest rates of voter registration.

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  • #51. Hawaii

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,057,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 523,000 (49.5% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 427,000 (40.4% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,064,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 530,000 (49.8% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 460,000 (43.3% of total voting-age population)

    In previous years, the Hawaii Office of Elections has helped support voter registration through booths at popular events like the Waikiki Spam Jam Festival and the Filipino Festival. However, its staff stop short of encouraging people to cast a vote, as it could appear partisan, said Honolulu City Clerk Glenn Takahashi in a 2018 article in the Honolulu Civil Beat. The state is sending all registered voters a ballot by mail this year.

  • #50. California

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 30,243,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 15,690,000 (51.9% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 13,240,000 (43.8% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 29,894,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 16,096,000 (53.8% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 14,416,000 (48.2% of total voting-age population)

    Some progressive groups in California, such as Acronym, are taking their voter registration drives online during the pandemic, using TikTok and Instagram to target young Latinos and Black Americans, according to the Los Angeles Times. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the Latino Community Federation held a series of voter pop-ups with live entertainment and neighborhood canvasses to get people registered to vote for California’s March 3 primary.

  • #49. Nevada

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 2,324,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 1,277,000 (55.0% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 1,006,000 (43.3% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 2,234,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 1,371,000 (61.4% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 1,195,000 (53.5% of total voting-age population)

    Nevada implemented automatic voter registration through its Department of Motor Vehicles this year. In an effort to continue boosting voter registration ahead of the 2020 election, groups like the League of Women Voters and the Nevada State Democratic Party planned online events for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

  • #48. Texas

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 21,064,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 11,634,000 (55.2% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 8,886,000 (42.2% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 20,172,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 11,724,000 (58.1% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 9,626,000 (47.7% of total voting-age population)

    Texas has not passed new laws allowing citizens to register to vote on the internet, despite the pandemic, reports the Texas Tribune. Groups that usually hold in-person voter registration events, like MOVE Texas, which typically sends volunteers to Mooov-In Day at the University of Texas at Austin, have had to cancel their plans during the COVID-19 crisis. Activist groups are now hosting phone banks in an effort to register hundreds of thousands of people to vote.

  • #47. New York

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 15,478,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 8,553,000 (55.3% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 6,775,000 (43.8% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 15,506,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 9,142,000 (59.0% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 7,869,000 (50.7% of total voting-age population)

    YMCA locations in New York City did their part helping people register to vote through on-site events on Sept. 22 this year, just as it has done in previous years, according to PIX11. In the past, groups have seen success registering new voters at naturalization ceremonies at federal courthouses in New York State, but many of those efforts have been put on hold during the pandemic, reports City Limits.

     

  • #46. Arkansas

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 2,261,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 1,262,000 (55.8% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 919,000 (40.6% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 2,216,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 1,456,000 (65.7% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 1,241,000 (56.0% of total voting-age population)

    In mid-September, an organization called Arkansas Votes hosted a drive-through voter registration event in Rogers, according to KNWA. The League of Women Voters in Washington County also planned a series of voter registration events in the northwestern part of the state in September at locations such as Starbucks, farmers markets, churches, and public libraries.

  • #45. Florida

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 16,845,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 9,435,000 (56.0% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 7,918,000 (47.0% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 16,202,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 9,604,000 (59.3% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 8,578,000 (52.9% of total voting-age population)

    Michael Bloomberg and John Legend were among the donors who have helped Florida Rights Restoration Coalition raise more than $20 million to help pay off court debts on behalf of felons in Florida to help them become eligible to vote in the 2020 election, writes Politico. Florida’s Department of State also announced in mid-September that it would mail postcards to 2.2 million people who meet eligibility requirements to vote but have not yet registered, hoping to add them to the voter rolls, according to The News Service of Florida.

  • #44. Idaho

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,299,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 743,000 (57.2% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 587,000 (45.2% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,224,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 790,000 (64.5% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 714,000 (58.3% of total voting-age population)

    Amid an uptick in voter registrations and concerns about the coronavirus, the Idaho Secretary of State has launched a #VoteEarlyIdaho campaign to encourage voters to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day, reports KTVB7. The nonpartisan group What The Vote Idaho is also trying to get younger people registered by encouraging teachers in the state to play a video about the importance of elections in their classrooms, according to Public News Service.

  • #43. New Mexico

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,576,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 916,000 (58.1% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 715,000 (45.3% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 1,547,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 916,000 (59.2% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 765,000 (49.4% of total voting-age population)

    High school seniors in New Mexico are trying to register 18 year olds to vote in the 2020 election by connecting with school districts across the state and hosting virtual rallies, according to KRQE. The University of New Mexico has also hosted in-person voter registration events on its campus.

  • #42. Arizona

    - 2018 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 5,361,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 3,262,000 (60.8% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 2,800,000 (52.2% of total voting-age population)
    - 2016 November election:
    --- Total voting-age population: 5,196,000
    --- Population registered to vote: 3,145,000 (60.5% of total voting-age population)
    --- Population who voted: 2,769,000 (53.3% of total voting-age population)

    From town halls and phone banks to drive-through voter registration events, a number of initiatives have been trying to register Arizonans to vote ahead of the deadline for the 2020 election, reports Fox10 Phoenix. The state also implemented a new policy that allows residents to register to vote online even if they don’t have a traditional street address, which is being hailed as a step in the right direction to empower tribal communities, according to the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

     

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