Voter participation is essential to a healthy representative democracy that is responsive and works for all of us. Despite its importance, voter engagement data point to some troubling trends. A 2018 report from the Morrison Institute noted two discouraging findings:
- In 2016, there were 2.1 million “potential voters” in Arizona who did not vote, nearly half (45 percent) of otherwise eligible voters in Arizona.
- The Economist Intelligence Unit, a research unit of The Economist magazine, annually releases its Democracy Index Rankings for nations across the globe. An 8.0 to 10.0 score is deemed a “full democracy” by EIU. In 2017, for the second year in a row, the United States was deemed a “flawed democracy,” due in part to its lack of voter participation.
However, the 2018 midterm elections provide important benchmarks, as Arizona saw the highest midterm participation in more than two decades.
Voter participation is measured in different ways—some sources report on turnout of registered voters, others report on turnout of eligible voters (those who could vote but may or may not have even registered), and some rely on survey data of how frequently individuals report on their own participation in elections.