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Composition of the Electorate
Reducing Disparities in America's Electorate
Low-income and minority citizens—both significant portions of the American population—are historically alienated from the electoral process. As a result, the proportion of the U.S. population that registers to vote and that does vote is highly skewed towards Whites, the educated and the wealthy.

These disparities in the electorate weaken our democracy and skew the national agenda by excluding from major public policy decisions the voices of the least powerful and most vulnerable citizens.

However, the population that voted in 2008—while still unrepresentative of the American population in many ways—was more diverse than in previous years. This is attributable to the increasing diversity of the population eligible to vote, a significant increase in turnout among minority voters in 2008, and a slight decline in turnout among White non-Latino voters.

Project Vote documented these significant gains (as well as the persisting disparities) in participation among historically underrepresented groups in our 2009 report
Representational Bias in the 2008 Electorate, which found that:

  • Voter turnout surged among non-Whites in 2008, making up approximately 9 percent of the increase in the total number of voters since 2004;
  • Registration and voting rates among minority groups under the age of 30  increased 2 to 5 percentage points since 2004;
  • Americans making less than $25,000 per year voted at a rate that lagged 25 percentage points behind those who earn more than $100,000.

Despite gains made in the 2008 general election, continued disparities strongly point to the need for civic organizations and government officials (at all levels of government) to continue to reduce barriers to participation and embrace voter registration reform that works to reduce the existing representational bias. For their part, governments should view bias in the electorate as a call to embrace voter registration as an affirmative responsibility through better implementation of laws relating to the registration of young, low-income and minority voters, particularly the Public Agency Registration provisions of the National Voter Registration Act.

Project Vote works to close these gaps by encouraging voter participation among young people, and low-income citizens, minority groups and to eliminate unfair barriers to voter registration and participation.

 



 

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