Voter Participation

Desired Trend

Up

Current Trend

Down
Baseline (2008): 69.5%
Current (2016): 67.5%

Theme Educated

Definition

Voter turnout among registered voters in the presidential election

Why is it Important?

Voting is an essential component of a representative democracy and is a form of civic engagement that demonstrates an interest in shaping and improving public policy. In addition, higher rates of voting increase the ability of residents to support policies that advance sustainability. Traditionally, voting rates are higher among those with higher education levels and higher family incomes, therefore an increase in voter participation could signal an increase in voting among typically disenfranchised voters, resulting in more inclusive and equitable participation. 

How are we Doing?

In the St. Louis region the percent of registered voters that voted in the presidential election decreased from 69.5 percent in the baseline year 2008 to 67.5 percent in 2016.1 However, from 2000 to 2016 the voter participation rate increased by 3.8 percentage points. In congressional elections, the percent of registered voters who voted increased and then decreased, from 49.7 percent in 2002, up to 51.0 percent in 2006, and down to 47.2 percent in 2010. In 2014, voter turnout was even lower, with a turnout rate of only 38.5 percent among registered voters. The decline in voting in 2014 and 2016 reveals a decrease in community engagement in the St. Louis region.

Among the eight counties in the St. Louis region, between 2000 and 2012 voter turnout during presidential elections was highest in Monroe and St. Charles counties but in 2016, voter turnout in Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin counties was higher than turnout in St. Charles County. Since 2000, turnout has been consistently lowest in the city of St. Louis. In the 2016 election, 59.2 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the city of St. Louis. By comparison, 78.4 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Monroe County.

The voter turnout rate can also be assessed by the percent of the entire voting age population that votes in the general election. Compared to the nation, the St. Louis region had higher voter turnout for all general elections between 2000 and 2012. However, in 2014, the voter turnout rate was slightly lower in the St. Louis region with a rate of 34.7 percent of the voting age population compared with 38.5 percent nationally. Data for voting age population comes from U.S. Census estimates. The most current data is for 2015 and therefore is not available for the 2016 election.

In 2014, 90.2 percent of the voting age population in the St. Louis region was registered to vote. This rate was highest in St. Louis County, where 96.0 percent of the voting age population was registered to vote. However, in 2014, only 36.9 percent of St. Louis County’s voting age population actually cast a ballot. In the St. Louis region, this rate was the lowest in Jefferson County. In 2014, 81.2 percent of the voting age population was registered to vote, and 31.9 percent of this population actually cast a ballot.  

 

Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.

Notes

1Voter turnout in Missouri is measured by the number of votes cast in the race receiving the highest number of votes statewide. In presidential election years, the race with the highest number of votes cast is either the presidential race or the senate race. This method has the potential to undercount voter turnout, since individual counties may differ from the state in terms of which race has the highest number of votes cast. In the state of Illinois, voter turnout is measured by counting the number of ballots cast.

Data Sources

Illinois State Board of Elections; Missouri Office of the Secretary of State