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Voter Turnout up 7 Million in 2006

     Some 96 million voted in the 2006 congressional elections, an increase of 7 million from 2002, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

     About 48 percent of voting-age citizens cast a ballot in 2006, the highest since 1994 when the Census Bureau first began collecting this data.

     These data come from the report Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2006, and are based on responses to the November 2006 Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement. The report examines the levels of voting and registration, characteristics of citizens who either registered or voted, and the reasons why people who were registered did not vote. Voting and registration rates are historically lower in years with congressional elections than in presidential election years. This report compares 2006 election data only with data from previous congressional election years.

     Among citizens of voting age, 68 percent were registered to vote in 2006, compared with 67 percent who were registered in 2002. Overall, 136 million people were registered in 2006, an increase of approximately 8 million over 2002.

     Nearly three of every four registered voters went to the polls in 2006. Among registered voters, 71 percent reported voting, compared with 69 percent in 2002.

     Among those who did not vote, about four out of 10 cited conflicting schedules or illness as reasons. About two in 10 were either not interested in voting or did not like the candidates. Other reasons for not voting included being out of town, forgetting to vote, registration problems, inconvenient polling locations, transportation issues and bad weather.

     Other highlights:

Race and Ethnicity

  • Non-Hispanic white citizens had the highest level of voter turnout in the November 2006 election at 52 percent, followed by black citizens at 41 percent, and both Hispanics and Asians at 32 percent.
  • In 2006, non-Hispanic whites had the highest registration rate (71 percent), followed by blacks (61 percent), Hispanics (54 percent) and Asians (49 percent).


  • In 2006, 22 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted compared with 63 percent of people 55 and older.
  • Although 18- to 24-year-olds had the lowest voting and registration rates (22 percent and 46 percent), they increased their registration and voting rates by roughly 3 percentage points between the 2002 and 2006 elections. The election showed a smaller increase in voting and registration rates among younger citizens than in the presidential election of 2004.


  • Among the voting-age citizen population, 69 percent of women and 66 percent of men registered to vote in the 2006 congressional elections.
  • Women were more likely to vote than men (49 percent compared with 47 percent).


  • In 2006, 93 percent of voting-age citizens were native-born citizens. Of the estimated 221 million people of voting age, 34 million were not citizens at birth. Of those, 14 million (42 percent) were naturalized citizens.
  • In 2006, a larger percentage of native-born citizens (69 percent) registered than naturalized citizens (54 percent). Native citizens also had a higher voting turnout rate (49 percent compared with 37 percent).

Marital Status

  • Married people had higher rates of both registration (75 percent) and voting (56 percent) in 2006 than nonmarried people.
  • Divorced women had higher registration rates (67 percent compared with 60 percent) and voting rates (45 percent compared with 41 percent) than divorced men.

Educational Attainment

  • The registration and voting rates of citizens with bachelor's degrees (78 percent and 61 percent, respectively) were higher than those of citizens who had not received a high school diploma (48 percent and 27 percent).


  • The voting rate of citizens living in families with annual incomes less than $20,000 (31 percent) was lower than those living in families with incomes of $50,000 or more (59 percent).

States and Regions

  • Among the states with the highest voting rates were Minnesota, South Dakota, Oregon and Montana.
  • The voting rate in the Midwest (53 percent) was higher than for those living in other regions. The voting rate in the West was 49 percent, compared with 47 percent in the Northeast and 44 percent in the South.
Editors note: These data come from the Current Population Survey. Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to Appendix G of <http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar06.pdf>.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: February 10, 2014