POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

BYU study finds lower voter turnout among certain demographics

Aug 11, 2022, 3:36 PM | Updated: 3:40 pm
Midterm Elections...
FILE: A voter drops a ballot into a box at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. The U.S. Department of Justice will be in San Juan County Tuesday to monitor election polling stations. (Scott G Winterton/ Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton/ Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah — A study out of BYU and the University of Virginia researched differences in voter turnout by demographics, and found that minorities, voters under 30 and Democrats are all less likely to vote. The study also found that Republicans over 30 had the highest rate of voter turnout.

The study authors relied on 400 million voting records to find the trends on which they reported.

“[We] have important fundamental rights that we enjoy as a democracy,” said Dr. Michael Barber, a professor of political science at BYU and an author of the study. “And some groups of people aren’t really taking advantage of that for a variety of reasons. Some of which I think are outside of their control.”

The authors of the study said minorities often live in “turnout deserts,” where voter turnout is lower than the national average.

“These patterns can create a situation that results in persistent patterns of lower turnout in certain communities for a variety of reasons,” Barber said.

The older people are, the more likely they are to vote

The biggest demographic difference in voter turnout was age.

“In terms of age, we found the biggest differences. Which was that voters who are older than 60 tend to vote almost twice — sometimes more than twice — as frequently as voters who are younger than 30,” Barber said.

The co-author said that Americans have a lot of room to grow as a country when it comes to voter participation. And he suggested that policies that make it easier to vote could make a large difference.

For example, he said Utah’s mail-in-voting policy has helped the state reach higher levels of turnout compared to other regions and is a step in the right direction.

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BYU study finds lower voter turnout among certain demographics