is created by David Witten, a mathematics and computer science student at Vanderbilt University. For more information, see the "About" page.

Voter Turnout

Demographic Factors that Affect Voter Turnout

There are various demographic factors that affect voter turnout, in addition to some legislative factors that hurt voter turnout.


People with a higher-than-average level of education have a higher rate of voting than people with less education. This is because more educated people can see major differences between the candidates. In addition, it's easier for them to register. 


Older people are far more likely to vote than younger people. For example, in Iowa, only 22% of people under the age of 25 voted, whereas 72% of people over the age of 65 voted. This is due to multiple reasons. 

Protect Their Benefits

Older people want to protect entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. Other programs, like welfare, benefit the poor, who generally have a lower education level, and they don't vote as much. For this reason, older people vote the most often.

More Free Time

People older than 65 are usually retired, meaning they don't have to miss work to vote. 


Race is also an important factor in voter turnout African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented among voters relative to their share of the population. This is, once again, due to their below-average level of education. 


Women participate in elections at a slightly higher rate than men (60% to 56%).

Marital Status

Married people are far more likely to vote than single people, because they have more of an interest in the future. 

Government Employment

Government workers vote at a very high rate (75%), because their jobs may be at stake.

Legislative Factors that Affect Voter Turnout

Voter Registration Laws

In the 1800s, there was a lot of corruption associated with stuffing ballot boxes. Around the turn of the 19th century, (1888), states adopted voter registration laws, instead of just showing up and voting. These laws prevented people from voting multiple times, but it also discouraged people from voting at all. 

1993 Motor Voter Act

The 1993 Motor Voter Act let people register to vote just by checking a box on their driver's license application or renewal form.

Frequency of Elections

Americans are faced with twelve elections in the span of four years, which may discourage them to vote. 

Election during the Week

In the 1840s, Congress established the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the date for presidential elections. Because of that, people don't want to miss work, so they don't go to vote.



David Witten

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