You Can Take These Voters to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Drink

Graphic credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The Virginia Public Access Project refuses to link to Bacon’s Rebellion news articles, but, hey, (gnashing of teeth) no hard feelings…. The nonprofit group produces some interesting data visualizations, including the graphic above, that are worth pondering.

Virginia has 5.2 million registered voters. Now, I know that many registered voters don’t always vote. But I’m surprised at how few registered voters cast ballots in every election. From the looks of the VPAP graphic, only one in four have voted in each of the last three elections.

Not that I’d thought about voter turnout terribly deeply, but I vote every single election — can’t think of one that I missed in 45+ years — and I just assumed that most registered voters usually went to the polls. But that’s obviously not the case. Getting people to register is only half the battle. Getting them off their duffs and into the voting booth is every bit as important. This challenge is no secret to anyone who’s ever worked on a political campaign, but the VPAP graphic drives it home for the rest of us.

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4 responses to “You Can Take These Voters to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Drink

  1. Woody Allen was right – 80 percent of life is showing up. But less than 80 percent do. Next week might get close, though…..

    This would be a very different country indeed if everybody did vote.

  2. By my count, once we subtract the too-young to vote ( 1.7 million), we have about a million citizens who are eligible to vote but have never registered.

    If you divide 133 (localities) into 7 million – you get an average of 7500 per county/city/town.

    That’s not chump change in terms of potential impact on election contests but then there are some who are thankful they don’t vote!

    Working in the past as a precinct volunteer – I can tell you the number of people who don’t really know but one contest on the ballot. that’s the only reason they showed up to vote!

    We have two Constitutional questions on the ballot. I’m betting 8 out of 10 will be surprised to see them on the ballot!

    One of those questions is a very significant one involving whether localities should subsidize those who live in areas that frequently flood.

  3. errata – the 7,500 is right but the 133 is divided into 1 million, not 7.

  4. I know the politically correct thing to do is emphasize on getting higher voter participation. I’d love to see higher voter participation and better voter preparedness. Civics should be part of the core role of education, but what I’ve seen is that most high school students cannot pass the U.S. naturalization citizenship test.

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