As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Nonprofit VOTE releases its biennial voter turnout report, America Goes to the Polls 2014, based on final data certified by state election offices. The report ranks voter turnout in all 50 states to look at major factors underlying voter participation in this historically low-turnout election. While just 36.6% of eligible citizens voted, the lowest in a midterm since World War II, turnout varied widely across states by as much as 30 percentage points. Maine led the nation with 58.5 percent turnout among eligible voters, follow by Wisconsin at 56.8 percent, and Colorado at 54.5%. Nevada, Tennessee, New York, Texas and Indiana made up the bottom five all with less than 30 percent of their eligible voters participating. “Clearly there’s much work to do to foster a healthy democracy when well below half the electorate votes in a national election,” states Brian Miller, executive director of Nonprofit VOTE. “The good news is that higher turnout states show us how we can increase voter turnout across the nation.”
The America Goes to the Polls 2014 report is available at http://www.nonprofitvote.org/americagoestothepolls2014.
The states with Election Day Registration (EDR) had the highest voter participation rates averaging 48 percent, 12 points higher than the turnout in states without it. EDR allows voters to correct a registration problem when they vote. Seven of the top 10 turnout states have EDR. None of the bottom 10 turnout states have EDR.
Four states — Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and the District of Columbia — used it for the first time in a midterm election bringing the number of EDR states to 13. As of February 2015, Election Day Registration legislation had been proposed in 14 additional states, including Alaska, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Vermont.