With election results finally certified by state election offices, Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project release “America Goes to The Polls,” a report that ranks all 50 states in voter turnout for the 2016 election and identifies policies that help contribute to higher turnout.
“We continue to see higher voter participation in states with same day registration even as four additional states adopted the policy.” said Dr. Michael McDonald, Director of the U.S. Elections Project. “The data shows clearly that same day registration is one of most effective strategies states can implement to increase turnout and help more voters participate.”
- National turnout of eligible voters was 60.2% – 1.6 percentage points above the 58.6% turnout in 2012, though slightly lower than 2008. Four in ten eligible voters did not vote.
- The highest turnout states were Minnesota (74.8%), Maine (72.8%), New Hampshire (72.5%), Colorado (72.1%), Wisconsin (70.5%), and Iowa (69.0%). All six offered same day voter registration, enabling voters to register or update their registration when they vote. Five were battleground states targeted by the presidential campaigns.
- The lowest turnout states were Hawaii (43%), West Virginia (50.8%), Texas (51.6%), Tennessee (52.0%) and Arkansas (53.1%). These five states were at the bottom for the third consecutive presidential election. None were battleground states. All five cut off the ability to register or update a registration three to four weeks before Election Day.
The report also highlights new data on the low level of electoral competition in both the presidential race and House races – a major contributor to low voter turnout in non-competitive states and districts.
The report features a range of state policies to promote voter participation and improve the voting process such as same day voter registration, automatic and online voter registration, as well as policies that could increase competition, such as Electoral College reform and nonpartisan redistricting.
- 147 million (65%) of the nation’s eligible voters live in non-battleground states where the outcome is largely a foregone conclusion. The major presidential candidates understand this and thus invested less than 10% of their ad spending and campaign visits on reaching those voters.
- Competition for U.S. House races hit its lowest mark in at least 30 years. Just 33 House races ended with margin of victory between the top two candidates of 10% points or less. Most House races (74%) were landslides or uncontested.
“Voter participation is at the core of active citizenship and a healthy democracy,” said Brian Miller, Executive Director of Nonprofit VOTE. “This report offers the reader an opportunity to learn from the practical experience of policies already enacted in many states to promote voting, encourage healthy competition, and improve election integrity.”
To download America Goes to the Polls 2016, visit www.americagoestothepolls.org.