Just because it's not a census year doesn't mean we're not getting fascinating statistics out of the Census Bureau. And here we have some data showing voting trends in recent years by state, demographic, etc.
While there are some noteworthy trends related to gender (i.e. women vote more than men), age and education (i.e. the likelihood of someone voting is almost directly proportional to age and level of education), one of the most surprising findings is that Texas is in really bad shape when it comes to voter turnout. In every November in the last decade, Texas has fallen squarely in the bottom tier of states in terms of voter turnout.
In the 2008 presidential election, 56.1 percent of Texas citizens 18 and older voted. Only five states had lower turnout. In November 2010, 36.4 percent eligible Texans voted, placing Texas dead last in terms of voter turnout.
The forecast isn't rosy either. In non-presidential election years, turnout has been decreasing, and is currently the lowest it's been over the past decade. Voting in presidential election years has at least increased somewhat, but, once again, still remains behind every other state.
The argument could be made that Texas isn't exactly a swing state, and gets little love from national candidates. But compare our 2008 turnout of 56.1 percent to 67.1 percent in Massachusetts, 69.7 percent in Mississippi, or 67.5 percent in North Dakota – all states that are also solidly red or blue. It also wouldn't explain the fact that Texans are increasingly voting in presidential years while voting less in non-presidential elections.
Shifting demographics may also be responsible. A very high proportion of eligible Hispanic voters are not registered, and voter turnout among Hispanics is only about two-thirds that of white voters. With the Hispanic population in Texas approaching 40 percent, the low registration and turnout levels in this group may be impacting the overall turnout. But states like New Mexico, California, Florida and even Arizona (with its notorious scare tactics), all with sizable Hispanic populations, still have significantly higher turnout. Whether Republican-led racially charged scare tactics and voter suppression efforts are a cause of this low level of voter registration and turnout, or whether they're just another layer on top of an already serious problem, they certainly don't help.
Our voter turnout is a major problem, without a clear cause or obvious solutions. Any ideas? Leave them in the comments.