NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Experts Bemoan The Nonvoters

August 31, 2001

The electorate is composed of those who are qualified to vote in an election -- i.e., citizens who register. But analysts who think everyone should vote call the turnout for the 2000 election "dismal," since only a little over half of the voting age population voted. (The voting age population includes noncitizens, convicted felons and people deemed incompetent in mental institutions.) Actually, the number of voters in the 2000 election was higher than in 1996, although proportionately below the participation rates achieved in the 1960s.

Here are some findings from a report released yesterday by the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate:

  • A total of 105,399,313 citizens, or 51.2 percent of adult residents of the United States, voted in 2000 -- up from 96,277,872, or 49 percent, in 1996.
  • An estimated 133,780,000 registered to vote in 2000 -- more than in 1996, but 2 percent less than the 67 percent who registered in 1996.
  • The total number of Americans who could have qualified to vote is estimated at over 200 million.
  • But of those registered, nearly 79 percent voted.

The committee's director, Curtis Gans, says that the nation is "still at levels 25 percent below what turnout was in the 1960s, and each succeeding generation of young potential citizens is voting at an ever lower rate."

Source: August Gribbin, "Voter Turnout in 2000 'Dismal,'" Washington Times, August 31, 2001.


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