Voter Participation

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2008): 69.5%
Current (2020): 70.8%

Theme Educated


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 and then increased to 70.8 percent in 2020.1 In 2000, the participation rate was even lower, 63.7 percent. In mid-term elections, voter turnout is generally lower than in presidential elections. In the most recent mid-term election (November of 2022), voter turnout was 51.2 percent for the St. Louis region, lower than in 2018 (58.9 percent) but still higher than in other years going back to 2002. In the 2014 mid-term election, voter turnout was 38.5 percent, which was likely due to the fact that there was no U.S. Senator up for reelection in Missouri in 2014.

In the 2020 presidential election, voter turnout in the St. Louis eight-county region among registered voters was highest in Monroe (79.1 percent) and St. Charles counties (76.3 percent) and lowest in St. Clair County (66.8 percent) and the city of St. Louis (60.7 percent). During the 2022 mid-term election, voter turnout was highest in Monroe County (66.1 percent) and lowest in Jefferson County (17.8 percent).

Voter turnout can also be assessed as a share of the entire voting age population—the population aged 18 years and older. In St. Louis, 63.5 percent of people aged 18 and older voted in the presidential election in 2016. This is higher than the national rate, which was 56.0 percent in 2016. Compared to the nation, St. Louis has had higher voter turnout in each presidential election since 2000 according to this method of measurement. Since 2002, St. Louis’ rate of voter turnout has been higher than the national rate in most midterm elections as well, with the exception of 2014. 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.

Another method is to report voter turnout based only on the voting-age citizen population, which consists of citizens aged 18 years and older. Voter participation among the voting-age citizen population was generally higher in the 2020 presidential election than in the 2016 election.2 In the St. Louis MSA, the voter participation rate among the voting-age citizen population was 68.5 percent, 3.6 percentage points higher than in 2016 (64.9 percent). Despite the increased participation rate, St. Louis ranked lower among the peer regions in 2020 than in 2016, 26th and 16th, respectively. The participation rate among the voting-age citizen population for the United States as a whole also increased from 2016 (59.6 percent) to 2020 (66.8 percent) and remained lower than for St. Louis in each of the elections.

Among the peer regions, Minneapolis had the highest voter participation rate in the last two presidential elections. In the 2020 presidential election, Minneapolis had a participation rate of 80.8 percent, higher than in 2016 (75.3 percent). Oklahoma City had the lowest participation rate among the peer regions in the 2020 presidential election, 54.6 percent.

A third common method to assess voter turnout is by looking at ballots cast as a share of the 18 and older population. This method of assessing voter participation will show less participation than if turnout is based on the previous two methods, share of registered voters and share of voting-age citizen population.

Voter Participation St. Louis

Geographic Level

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


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.

2Due to COVID-19 the U.S. Census Bureau did not release 2020 ACS 1-year estimates because they did not meet the agencies standards. As a result, the 2020 citizen population is estimated using an average of the 2019 ACS 1-year and the 2021 ACS 1-year estimates of citizens aged 18 and older.  


Data Sources

Illinois State Board of Elections; Missouri Office of the Secretary of State; U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration