That’s the message from yesterday’s release of voting behavior across the United States in 2012 when it comes to same-day registration for Colorado.
Colorado citizens do an admirable job of voting in our elections. We outshine all but a handful of states with very favorable demographics.
Nate Cohn has his first-out-of-the-box analysis of 2012 turnout across America here. Cohn is a nationally-known political numbers guy with strong ties to Democratic groups, so our state’s Democrats, especially, should respect his finding – based on US Census data.
His takehome message from 2012? Republicans should not count, at all, on lower minority turnout in future presidential elections. Sheer population growth among minorities assures, he says, Democrats of many more elections that they should win.
Assuming Cohn is correct, Colorado’s Democrats don’t need same day registration to goose their numbers. I believe it will actually hurt their turnout efforts. This is especially true since “registration” problems rank far below some Americans’ disinterest in elections and their dislike of the candidates.
Colorado’s turnout statistics, provided by the US Census Bureau (here) show, with two exceptions (black and older voters), that our turnout was truly nation leading. Read on for details.
Before going to actual Colorado data, let’s lay out what Census interviewers heard about why people didn’t vote in 2012.
- Uninterested, disliked candidates, 28.4%
- Too busy, 18.9%
- Sick, 14.0%
- Out of town, 8.6%
- Transportation/Polling Place Problems, 6%
- Registration problems, 5.5%
Only after 75.9% of non-voters have offered some other reason, does “registration” appear as a problem. Same day registration is a solution in search of a problem. Especially when the proposed solution actually makes the voting process more inconvenient.
Turnout likelihood is highly influenced by a potential voter’s gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, educational attainment. Non-Hispanic whites and blacks “outvote” other minorities, older voters beat younger, married beat not married, and degree holders outvote those without post-high school learning. There are a handful of mostly Northern tier states where all these factors conspire to produce quite high turnouts. (Think Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, among a few others.)
Setting aside these states with much higher likelihood of voting – purely based on demographics – Colorado performs superbly.
Colorado Turnout by Race/Ethnicity
White Non-Hispanic = 75.2% (#2 nationally, a 2.5% margin of error)
Hispanic (Any Race) = 52.1% (#12 nationally, a 10.6% margin of error)
Black alone = 55.6% (#29 nationally, a 16.2% margin of error)
Asian alone = 31.6% (#16 nationally, a 17.9% margin of error)
This is turnout of the citizen population. The margin of error is quite high for minorities. (Census itself says that state-level “estimates become unreliable.”) Note that Hispanic turnout of total population, including non-citizens, was only 38% and that military voters are not surveyed.
Colorado Turnout by Age
18 to 24 = 56.1% (#3 nationally, a 7.0% margin of error)
25 to 44 = 66.9% (#5 nationally, a 4.1% margin of error)
45 to 64 = 76.9% (#6 nationally, a 3.5% margin of error)
65 to 74 = 78.0% (#17 nationally, a 6.9% margin of error)
75 and up = 70.5% (#20 nationally, an 8.7% margin of error)
(Again, citizen turnout rate.) For whatever reason, senior Coloradans did not turn out, based on their national ranking, at a rate nearly as well as younger Coloradans. Sure, they turned out at a greater rate than the under 45 crowd, but we should try to uncover why the 75+ group, especially, didn’t turn out at a better rate. Forcing them to travel far from their homes on election day (as the same-day registration bill will do) strikes me as highly likely to depress their turnout especially.
As to turnout by minorities, our state specific numbers don’t offer much statistical confidence, but – if they are correct – only among black Coloradans did we under perform decidedly. That may have been due to the fact that blacks in Eastern states really went to the polls in unprecedented numbers, not to any shortcoming by Colorado’s African-American community.
My own takehome message from this is:
The longer lines to vote – caused by people both registering and voting at the same place/time – will actually depress our turnout in Colorado.