Just 71% of voting-age U.S. citizens are registered to vote, and an even smaller share actually makes it to the voting booth on election day. In the 2012 presidential election, 61.8% of eligible U.S. residents went to the polls. The nation’s voter turnout rate trails rates in most developed nations where voter turnout rates tend to be at least 80%.
The electoral college system means votes in some states are weighted more than in others. Compared to Texas or California, for example, a single electoral vote in Wyoming is earned with far fewer individual votes. “A vote in Rhode Island, Wyoming, Delaware, all the small states, is much more valuable than your vote is in California,” Kamarck said.
After competitiveness, the strongest predictor of voter turnout is the level of education of area residents, which in turn drives up incomes for participating members of the electorate. While states with above average college attainment rates do not necessarily have above average voter turnout rates, college-educated state residents in every state are more likely to participate in presidential elections than their less-educated peers in every state without exception.
Other democracies around the world typically hold elections on the weekend or declare election day a national holiday. By contrast, presidential elections in the United States are held on Tuesdays, during the work day. Largely because of how elections are held in the United States, individuals living in poverty are far less likely to vote than higher income individuals — not because of low education but rather, at this extreme low end of the income spectrum, due to lack of flexibility in the workplace.
Largely because of how elections are held in the United States, individuals living in poverty are far less likely to vote than higher income individuals due to lack of flexibility in the workplace. “People who are paid on an hourly basis can’t take off time to vote, so often they don’t vote,” Kamarck said. Indeed the most prevalent reason among voters for not going to the polls was conflicting work or school schedules.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed average voter turnout rates over the past four presidential election cycles in every state in the nation. Voter participation ranged from approximately three-quarters of eligible Minnesota residents, the highest nationwide, to half of potential voters in Hawaii, the lowest voter turnout rate in the country.
States With the Highest (and Lowest) Voter Turnout - 24/7 Wall St.