Overall voter participation percentage calculated by overall eligible population (including aliens) and the number of votes cast in presidential elections.
Overall voter participation percentage calculated by overall eligible population (including aliens) and the number of votes cast in presidential elections.   

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Record Number of Registered Voters
Published Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Reports of record breaking numbers of registered voters have come in from all over the country. In fact, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State are rushing to insure that the number of voters are met with the appropriate number of poll workers, places to vote and voting machines due to the record numbers. Regardless of the candidates, the record numbers and new technology alone will make this presidential election worth watching.

With information found at the U.S. Census Bureau, states have reported 188 Million registered voters which would mean a 32% increase over the previous presidential election record of 142 million. Given that there are a reported 305 Million Americans (approximately) and the proportion of those over 18 is 75.5% that would mean that nearly 80% of eligible voters are now registered. In the 2004 presidential election only five states actually hit the 70% margin for eligible voters who voted. The last election that actually broke the 60% barrier for voter participation overall was Humphery versus Nixon in 1968 with 60.7% and that was with 74.3% of the voting age population reported registered.

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Early Voting Increasing in Popularity
Published Friday, September 19th, 2008

For many countries, Election Day is a national holiday, leaving well enough time for all to vote without waiting in long, dark lines after working a full day. As reported by Time Magazine, for some years now early voting has been gaining popularity as seen by the increase in early voting polls opening up all around the country. Nationwide, 15% of the electorate cast early ballots in the 2000 presidential election. By 2004, the percentage was 20% and in the 2006 congressional elections, nearly 25% of all votes came from early voters. Within states the numbers are surprisingly higher where early voting can account to nearly 60% of votes.

By law, absentee voting by mail is allowed in 28 states, with an excuse in 22. No-excuse permanent absentee voting is allowed in 4 states. Early voting in person is allowed with no excuse required in 31 U.S. states, with an excuse in 3, and not at all in 16. The District of Columbia requires an excuse for both early voting and absentee voting.

During the last two elections, 2004 and 2006, most states did not even see 70% of the eligible voters voting in the Presidential Election, less than 50% for mid-term elections. Early voting options may help increase voting participation, as well as polling stations in universities and other non-traditional places where populations frequent.

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Learn More

Election Assistance Commission -
The 2002 Help Americans Vote Act instructs the EAC to collect data about election administration issues and share the data with election officials and the public.

Take Action

U.S. Federal Election Commission: Educational Outreach -
Each year, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) sponsors conferences where Commissioners and staff conduct a variety of technical workshops on the law. Discussion topics include fundraising, reporting and communications. Workshops are designed for those seeking an introduction to the basic provisions of the law as well as for those more experienced in campaign finance law.