The Census Bureau has released a new report that shows California has one of the lowest rates in the country for voter registration and voter turnout. The Golden State has 27.4 million voting-age residents, but of those eligible voters, only around 50 percent were registered to cast their ballots during the 2010 elections. For the sake of comparison, the national average is 59.8 percent. And when it comes to the turnout rate for the state’s registered voters, only 39.2 percent of voting-age residents show up at the polls, which is one of the lowest rates in the nation (but not the lowest). Texas actually had the lowest rate in the country at 31.4 percent.
So why are California’s voter rates so poor? One big factor is that a large part of our population is comprised of non-citizens. In more diverse states like California and Texas, voter participation is generally lower due to low levels of citizenship for many ethnic groups. But Joe Matthews over at Prop Zero argues there are other determining factors:
“Why don't Californians do better? The short answer is: political participation appears to be a product of social connection, and Californians are not connected closely to each other. People who study civic engagement ask questions like: Do you eat dinner often with your family? Do you know and work on community problems with your neighbors? Does your family discuss current events? The answers to those questions tend to be yes in places with high levels of voter registration and participation. But Californians, according to surveys like the California Civic Health Index, are less connected to their families and communities on these kinds of measures.”
See more here.