I was always under the impression that less than 50 percent of eligible adults voted. This is because in elections around the world we hear of 90+ percent participation while it was significantly less in the US. So I went to the census bureau (www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p20-562.pdf) and found out the following. In the presidential election of 2008, 64 percent of voting age citizens voted which was not statistically different from the presidential elections of 2004. You would think that since this was an historic election with Barack Obama being the democratic nominee that there would be a higher percentage voting, but no. However, blacks voted at the higher levels since those statistics have been recorded. Nonetheless, the likelihood of blacks voting was still only 65 percent. One would have thought that voter participation among blacks would have been much higher. Non-Hispanic whites voted at 66 percent while Asians and Hispanics were only at a dismal 49 percent. I have no clue why the Asian participation rate is so low but you would have thought that given the dustups over immigration and Hispanics now constituting the largest minority group, that their voter participation would be greater. However, the number of minority voters did increase. There were 5 million more voters in 2008 than in 2004. Of that number 2 million were black, 2 million were Hispanic and 600,000 were Asian. The number of non-Hispanic white voters stayed about the same. Consequently, both the number of black voters increased along with black voter participation. Nonetheless, 65 percent participation is still surprisingly low. The census also reported that of the 225 million adults, 206 million were citizens and 146 million were registered and 131 million voted. This means that while only the voting rate for the total population was 58 percent. Of the adult population 64 percent were registered and 90 percent of those voted.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com