All the controversy  around the Presidential Election made me wonder how things have changed over time. I also wondered what percent of the eligible population normally casts votes for President.

In the 2016 Presidential Election, 69% of voters are white, 12% are African-American, 12% are Hispanic and 4% are Asian. Since 2012 the white percentage as dipped (older whites are passing away) and the voter eligible Hispanic population has grown (birth rate). The total number of eligible voters in 2016 is just under 226 million people out of a population of 324 million. This is in line with what I expected to find. (Source: Pew Research)

On the other hand I found startling news in Wikipedia when I looked for voter turnout as a percent of the general population. In 1860 it reached its highest level when it jumped to 81.2%, probably because the country was about to enter the Civil War.  OK, so what about “modern times?” In 1900 it was 73.2%. In 1932 it was 56.9%. In 1960 (Kennedy vs Nixon) it was 62% and in 1968 (Viet Nam) it was 60.7%. Those last two were contentious years. Since 1968, the average turnout for a Presidential Election is in the 50+% range, not very impressive. (Source: The American Presidency Project). However the actual number of people voting has gone from 68.8 million in 1968, to 129 million in 2012. This is due to population growth. So while the percentages seem flat, the actual numbers are growing.

Early on in our history only land owners could vote. African-Americans couldn’t vote until after the Civil War. Women couldn’t vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. The Baby Boomers began arriving after 1945. And our 18-year-old citizens couldn’t vote for President until 1972.

If you find these numbers confusing, so do I. Searching online for this information has raised other questions I don’t know how to pursue. For instance, the American Presidency Project shows 235 million eligible voters in 2012 while Pew Research shows only 226 million eligible for this year. Where could 9 million voters have gone? Donald would have fun with that statistic.

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