Part 2: Texas' Missing Young Voters

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An earlier post took a look at the Census Bureau's estimates of voter turnout in Texas by age – and, well, the stats weren't pretty for 18-24 voters compared with their peers in other states.

But can the voter file tell us more?

The good news is that the age of voters – unlike ethnicity – is something that voter registrars in Texas track, so the data is considerably more certain and available. (To be sure, there are a few thousand voters without recorded birthdates and some inevitable coding errors – but not enough to be statistically significant in a universe of 13.6 million registered voters.)

Below the jump, let's take a look at the actual turnout data, starting with the voter pool.Heading into the last general election, 18-24 year olds made up 9.61% of all registered voters in Texas, while voters 24-34 made up another 17.6% of the voter pool.

Voters over 50 made up 46.2% of the pool of potential voters.

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But by this point, it will come as no surprise that when it came to actual turnout, older voters dominated.

In fact, voters over 50 – a group that is disproportionately Anglo – made up 55.3% of all actual voters.

By contrast, voters under 35 made up just 18.7% of actual voters, with voters 18-24 being just 6.3% of the voter universe.

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It's not all bad news, however. Looking at statewide turnout rates as a percentage of registered voters, the data looks a little better for those young voters who actually got past the point of getting registered.

While 25.4% of all eligible 18-24 year olds voted in 2012, of those who were registered 38.13% did.

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But that figure disguises some marked regional differences.

Among the 15 largest counties, for example, 46.29% of young voters in Travis County went to the polls compared with 69% of Travis County voters over 65.

By contrast, only 26.34% of their peers in Cameron County and 31.19% of those in El Paso County.

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And, oh, how many 18-24 year olds were registered?

Using the Census Bureau's estimate of citizen voting age population, it looks like about 56% using actual voting records.

The Census Bureau, though, records a lower rate base on surveys (38.3%), likely meaning that many young people may not be aware they registered (e.g. registered at the DMV office and forgot) or may have moved since they first registered.

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