Voter Participation

The Champaign County Courthouse, a large, red brick building with a flagpole and a bike rack outside the main entrance.

What is the indicator?

The first indicator in the Engagement category, Voter Participation, presents voter turnout in Champaign County as a percentage, calculated using two different methods.

In first method, the voter turnout percentage is calculated using the number of ballots cast compared to the total population in the county that is eligible to vote. In the second method, the voter turnout percentage is calculated using the number of ballots cast compared to the number of registered voters in the county.

Since both methods are in use by other agencies, and since there are real differences in the figures that both methods return, we have provided the voter participation rate for Champaign County using each method.

 

Why is this important?/Why did we include it in our set of indicators?

Voter participation is a solid illustration of a community’s engagement in the political process at the federal and state levels. One can infer a high level of political engagement from high voter participation rates, and vice versa.

 

What does the data say? Are there any notable trends?

 

Voter Participation Rates

  Primary Election   General Election   
Eligible PopulationRegistered VotersBallots CastParticipation Rate (Eligible)Participation Rate (Registered)Registered VotersBallots CastParticipation Rate (Eligible)Participation Rate (Registered)
2004105,39926,192122,73984,153
2005121,107122,60820,17216.7%16.5%
2006137,209112,30222,69516.5%20.2%113,90553,86939.3%47.3%
2007138,174115,01418,89713.7%16.4%
2008141,979109,94639,15627.6%35.6%123,15084,80459.7%68.9%
2009146,728119,22826,30917.9%22.1%
2010146,955117,99122,46615.3%19.0%122,44154,81837.3%44.8%
2011148,061123,04920,89014.1%17.0%
2012150,055124,69626,21217.5%21.0%112,93378,93952.6%69.9%
2013150,481112,70414,5229.7%12.9%
2014153,959110,10023,29915.1%21.2%113,12255,43436.0%49.0%
2015153,477113,69521,83914.2%19.2%
2016119,45459,00349.4%134,35292,84269.1%

 

The voter participation rate calculated using the total eligible population is consistently lower than the voter participation rate calculated using the number of registered voters, since the number of registered voters, of course, is smaller than the total eligible population.

There are consistent trends in both sets of data: the voter participation rate, no matter how it is calculated, shows large spikes in presidential election years (e.g., 2008, 2012) and smaller spikes in intermediary even years (e.g., 2006, 2010, 2014). The lowest levels of voter participation can be seen in odd years (e.g., 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013).

 

Where did we get the data, and how often is it released?

This data primarily comes from the election results resources on the Champaign County Clerk website. Election results resources from Champaign County include the number of ballots cast and the number of registered voters. The results are published frequently, following each election.

Data on the total eligible population for Champaign County was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, using American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for each year starting in 2005, when the American Community Survey was created. The estimates are released annually by the Census Bureau.

 

Sources: Champaign County Clerk Election History; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (6 March 2017).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2012 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2006 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2005 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B05003; generated by CCRPC staff; using American FactFinder; (15 March 2016).