Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 1.4 Voting behavior of young adults

04/01/1997

Voting is a seminal act of citizenship in a democracy. Measures of the voting behavior of young adults may be seen as indicators of the level of youth commitment to becoming actively involved in the democratic process.

Rates of voter registration and actual voting among 18- to 20-year-olds during presidential election years declined between 1972 and 1976, and have stayed rather flat through 1992 (see Table SD 1.4.A). In 1972, 58 percent of young adults ages 18-20 registered to vote, and 48 percent actually voted. By 1992, 48 percent had registered to vote, and 39 percent had voted (see Figure SD 1.4.A).

Differences by Gender. Rates of voter registration and voting are modestly higher among women both over time and within racial and ethnic groups. For example, in 1992, 50 percent of females and 47 percent of males ages 18-20 registered to vote.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity. Hispanic young adults are by far the least likely to register and to vote. In 1992, only 23 percent were registered, and 16 percent voted. Comparable numbers for blacks are 43 percent registered and 32 percent who voted. Whites were the most likely to register (51 percent) and to vote (41 percent) (see Figure SD 1.4.A). Since 1972, the percentage of Hispanic young adults who voted in presidential election years has declined by almost one half, from 30 percent to 16 percent.

Differences by Electoral Cycle. The percentage of young adults who voted in nonpresidential election years during these years was substantially lower than the percentage who voted during presidential election years (see Table SD 1.4.B). Rates of registration and voting have been remarkably stable during such years, across nonpresidential election years, with overall rates varying by only a few percentage points across years.
 

Figure SD 1.4.A  
Behavior in Presidential Election Years: Percentage of Persons Ages 18-20 Who Registered to Vote and Percentage Who Voted, 1972-1992 

SD1_4A.GIF

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 253, No. 293, No. 322, No. 344, No. 370, No. 405, No. 414, No. 453, No. 466, and PPL24-RV, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1972-1994, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
 
 

Figure SD 1.4.B  
Voting Behavior in Presidential Election Years: Percentage of Persons Ages 18-20 Who Registered to Vote and Percentage Who Voted, by Race and Ethnicity: 1992 

SD1_4B.GIF

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 253, No. 293, No. 322, No. 344, No. 370, No. 405, No. 414, No. 453, No. 466, and PPL24-RV, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1972-1994, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
 
 

Table SD 1.4.A  
Voting Behavior in Presidential Election Years: Percentage of Persons Ages 18-20 Who Registered to Vote and Percentage Who Voted, 1972-1992

                 
     
1972
1976
1980
1984
1988
1992
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Percentage Who Registered 
All Races
 
    Both sexes
58
47
45
47
45
48
    Males 
58
46
44
45
42
47
    Females
58
48
46
49
48
50
                 
  White
    Both sexes
60
50
47
48
46
51
    Males 
61
48
45
46
43
49
    Females
60
51
48
50
48
53
                 
  Black
    Both sexes
43
34
35
47
43
43
    Males 
37
33
36
43
39
41
    Females
49
35
35
51
46
44
                 
  Hispanic
    Both sexes
38
29
20
25
25
23
    Males 
39
31
20
22
22
20
    Females
37
27
20
28
27
27
                 
  Percentage Who Voted 
All Races
 
    Both sexes
48
38
36
37
33
39
    Males 
48
36
35
34
31
37
    Females
49
40
37
39
35
41
                 
  White
    Both sexes
51
41
38
38
35
41
    Males 
51
39
36
35
32
39
    Females
51
42
39
40
37
43
                 
  Black
    Both sexes
31
23
25
36
28
32
    Males 
26
22
26
30
26
29
    Females
35
24
25
41
30
34
                 
  Hispanic
    Both sexes
30
22
13
18
16
16
    Males 
27
23
12
14
15
13
    Females
32
21
15
21
16
19
                 
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 253, No. 293, No. 322, No. 344, No. 370, No. 405, No. 414, No. 453, No. 466, and  
PPL24 RV, "Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1972-1994," U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

 
 

Table SD 1.4.B  
Voting Behavior in Congressional Election Years: Percentage of Persons Ages 18-20 Who Registered to Vote and Percentage Who Voted, 1974-1994

                 
     
1974
1978
1982
1986
1990
1994
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Percentage Who Registered 
All Races
 
    Both sexes
36
35
35
35
35
37
    Males 
36
34
35
34
34
36
    Females
36
36
35
36
36
38
                 
  White
    Both sexes
38
36
36
35
37
40
    Males 
38
36
37
34
36
39
    Females
38
37
35
37
38
41
                 
  Black
    Both sexes
28
28
31
39
30
32
    Males 
26
25
25
40
31
31
    Females
29
30
36
39
30
34
                 
  Hispanic
    Both sexes
20
19
20
20
17
20
    Males 
18
23
20
19
16
18
    Females
22
16
21
21
19
24
                 
  Percentage Who Voted 
All Races
 
    Both sexes
21
20
20
19
18
17
    Males 
21
20
20
18
18
16
    Females
20
20
19
19
19
18
                 
  White
    Both sexes
22
21
20
18
19
18
    Males 
23
21
22
18
19
17
    Females
21
21
19
19
20
19
                 
  Black
    Both sexes
14
15
18
21
15
13
    Males 
13
15
13
21
15
13
    Females
14
15
21
20
15
13
                 
  Hispanic
    Both sexes
12
11
12
10
10
11
    Males 
12
14
12
9
8
6
    Females
13
8
13
12
12
16
                 
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-20, No. 253, No. 293, No. 322, No. 344, No. 370, No. 405, No. 414, No. 440, No. 453, No. 466, "Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1972-1994," U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

 

 

View full report

Preview
Download

"97intro.pdf" (pdf, 97.9Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec1.pdf" (pdf, 163.75Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec2.pdf" (pdf, 235.24Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec3.pdf" (pdf, 269.73Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec4.pdf" (pdf, 331.35Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec5.pdf" (pdf, 202.8Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®