Wow. If you are like me, you probably think that voter turnout in America is bad.
And I think that a lot of people reading this blog entry are going to think I am really stupid and uninformed. But bear with me. I learned something and maybe you will, too.
SO, EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT VOTER TURNOUT IN THE USA IS SHIT.
And SO WRONG we should all be ripping new assholes at every news source in America. IMHO.
What would you say if I told you that voter turnout in the USA in 2012 was 86.81%?
Hmmm. . . I even have it down to two decimal-places, don’t I? YEP.
Here is the first tidbit, the BIG tidbit, the Big Enchilada:
In the last Presidential Election year, 2012, 71.2% of the population was registered to vote, and of those then eligible to cast a vote on Election Day, 86.81% went to the polls and voted.
If I asked you to pull ONE important number out of that sentence, what would it be?
If your brain works like mine does, you’d pick out the 86.81%.
But exactly what does that sentence mean?
First off, it says that of U.S. citizens only 23 out of every 32 (71.2%) registers to vote. Obviously that says that 9 out of 32 doesn’t register, for whatever reason.
That reason might be that they simply don’t want to participate. Or that they have forgotten to register. Or it could mean that they don’t understand about voting. OR it even could be that someone is suppressing their right to vote, whether through draconian red tape or perhaps by intimidation or misinformation – or, as the GOP has been pushing, a lack of proper identification. There are certainly other reasons.
HOW MANY ARE REGISTERING?
The second thing that that said was that the reporting people are not quite presenting the numbers in a way that I think is legitimate.
We all know the difference between people LIVING in the USA and those who are citizens, right?
And we all know that after we become citizens of voting age, we can register to vote – or we might for some reason NOT. We DO have that freedom. I know someone very well who hasn’t voted since 1976, and he says it is because he refuses to participate in a charade. He has that right, doesn’t he?
Now, we may all think that 28.8% not registering is pretty bad. It’s 2 out of every 7 – or 9 out of every 32.
But, the rule in voting bodies is usually that a quorum is needed to bring something to a vote. 5 out of 7 in MOST electoral bodies, then, would be perfectly acceptable. Or 23 out of 32. There isn’t a city board or council in the country that would bat an eye if they had that kind of representation present for a vote.
WHY is it bad when U.S. citizens “only” 23 out of 32 have seen fit to make themselves eligible to vote?
But NOW we get to what really IMPRESSES ME:
Straight from the U.S. Census Department here, Table 4b, the official governmental numbers:
- 132,948,000 people voted in 2012. (rounded to the nearest 1,000)
- A total of 235,248,000 people of voting age lived in the USA. (rounded to the nearest 1,000)
- 215,081,000 of those were citizens. (rounded to the nearest 1,000)
- Thus, 20,1167,000 people 18 and older in the USA are not citizens and, thus, are ineligible to vote. So, don’t count them.
- 153,157,000 of them were registered to vote. (rounded to the nearest 1,000)
- Thus, 86,091,000 people are citizens but are not registered to vote.
THOSE WHO REGISTER ACTUALLY VOTE!
To me, the amazing thing is that essentially 7 out of every 8 of the registered citizens – and who were thus LEGALLY ABLE to cast a vote – went to the polls and DID vote.
Now, THAT is something I did not expect.
VOTER TURNOUT IS A MISUNDERSTOOD THING
When groups such as Pew Research Center tell us that one party or the other “…didn’t get out the vote on Election Day,” did you know that they don’t even TELL us that they figure their percentages including the people who are not even REGISTERED?
They don’t even TELL us that they aren’t really talking about the percentage of who COULD vote and those who then DID.
They actually don’t figure the percentages based on ELIGBLE voters. They figure as if some – no, ALL! – of the citizens – including those not registered! – were slack on Election Day.
Those of us who have MADE ourselves eligible to vote – BY DAMNED! WE DO GO VOTE! 7 out of freaking 8!
Pew in May of 2013 told us that the official government numbers for 2012 showed that only “65.1% of voters” turned out to vote. THAT number is arrived at by dividing the actual voters by the total citizens. Total citizens includes that 28.8% that was not registered. OF COURSE THEY DIDN’T GO TO THE POLLS! The poll officials would have told them to fly a KITE and get the hell out of the way.
THE REAL SHORTCOMING IS GETTING REGISTERED
The time for anyone to deal with any low levels of voting is not on Election Day. It is weeks and months before Election Day.
And Republicans are putting obstacles in the way. Red states have a lower registration for Hispanics.
- Overall the US has 15.0% fewer Hispanics registered (58..7%) than Whites (73.7%).
- For the Red states a simple average 20.3% for Hispanics, 5.3% above the US average.
- For the Blue states a simple average shows that Hispanics register at nearly rates equal to Whites – 16.8% difference, or 1.7% lower for Hispanics.
- For the PURPLE swing states, however, a simple average shows that Hispanics actually register at HIGHER rates than the national average for Whites – 12.8% for Hispanics, 2.3% better than the 15.0% average for Whites.
This means that looking a simple average, 7.6% more Hispanics registered in Swing States than in Red States, while in Blue States Whites vs Hispanics are about equally registered. DEFINITELY, people ARE doing not only doing the Get-out-the-vote thing, but GETTING PEOPLE REGISTERED in the FIRST place – and in the states where it matters.
So, it is not imagination that Hispanics are not REGISTERED as much in Red States. Is it because of barriers to registering? No one advising Hispanics?
What is true is that Hispanics across the country who DO get registered are voting at 81.7% participation. While still below Whites and Blacks, almost 82% sounds damn good to me.
Once registered, everyone votes at above 81.5%.
One more thing on that, though…
Let’s cut the GOP at least a LITTLE slack. Especially in less-populated Red States it is VERY common to have a bigger margin of victory than the total of all Hispanics in each of those states. In those cases, one can understand that Hispanics themselves may ask, “WHY BOTHER? My guy is still going to lose.”
In the 17 Red States with under 3.5 million eligible voters (an arbitrary number by me), the average difference between Whites and Hispanics is 9.96%, a fully 60% bigger difference than the Red State average – and over a 12% bigger difference than in Swing States.
These “small” states are simply not competitive in Presidential politics, so we probably should not read too much into the slack numbers of Hispanic registered voters. There are other reasons than suspecting nefarious motives on the part of anybody.
WHY ARE THE POLLING FIRMS TELLING THIS WRONG?
Agendas? To stress to people to VOTE? To make us all feel like bad citizens?
I think that any country that gets over 80% of the people who are prepared to vote and who actually GO vote, that THAT country is doing a fine job.