Voting Trends in the November 2010 Election

The Census bureau released this month detailed tables on voting and registration for the November 2010 election.  California ranked 48th of the 50 states in voter registration (behind Hawaii and New Mexico), with 50.6% of voting-age adults registered to vote, and 40th in actual voter turn-out, with 39.3% of voting-age adults casting votes. California’s low rate of registration might be explained in part by the fact that 17% of California residents are non-citizens.  When the numbers are adjusted to account for citizenship status, California’s rank significantly improves: voter turn-out among Californians with U.S. citizenship was 47.1%, putting California in the top half of the states, at number 22.

The data suggests that large numbers of Hispanic and Asian residents in California are excluded from voting due to lack of citizenship.  While 38.1% of voting-age Asians are registered, that number rises to 50.1% amongst Asian citizens.  Similarly, while just 33.6% of voting-age Hispanics are registered to vote, 52% of Hispanic citizens are.

Across the nation, income level was strongly correlated with voter turn-out.   The number of persons registered and voting rose steadily and markedly as income rose: while 25% or less of voters in the two lowest income brackets (those with a family income of $14,999 per year or less) voted, well over 50% of voters in the upper three brackets (those with an annual family income of $75,000 or more) cast a vote.