Learn More: Registered Voters


Variable Definition:
Voter Registration Rate: The percentage of the voting-age population that was registered to vote in the last general election
California Statewide Database
Years Available:
2008, 2012
Geographic Unit:
Census Tract

Why is this Variable Important to Measure?

Voter Registration Rate
Voting is an important part of political participation and civic engagement in a democracy. The percentage of the population that is registered to vote can vary across neighborhoods for a number of different reasons. A low registration percentage could be an indication of a large number of non-citizens in a neighborhood or lack of knowledge on how to become a registered voter.
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 percentage of registered voters 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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