FEB. 17, 2022 — The 2020 presidential election featured record turnout and record use of nontraditional voting methods, according to the “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2020” report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report builds on detailed tables released last year. It’s based on data from the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration Supplement, and highlights patterns in voter turnout over time among the citizen voting-age population (CVAP).
More voters (154.6 million) turned out for the presidential election in 2020 than in 2016 (137.5 million), the largest increase between consecutive presidential elections since the inception of the CPS voting supplement in 1964.
In addition, the report explores how different demographic groups were over- or under-represented among voters in the 2020 presidential election compared to the CVAP as a whole. Groups that were overrepresented among voters in the 2020 election compared to their respective shares of the CVAP include:
Just 4.3% of registered nonvoters cited concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic as their reason for not voting, while 2.3% of the nonregistered population cited the COVID-19 pandemic as their reason for not registering to vote. Those age 65 and older were more likely to cite concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic as their reason for not voting if registered and as their reason for not being registered than those in younger age groups.
Changes in election procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic did yield a dramatic increase in the use of nontraditional voting methods — casting a ballot by mail or in person prior to Election Day. For the first time on record in the CPS voting supplement, a majority (69.4 %) of voters cast ballots by a nontraditional method in the 2020 presidential election.
Other highlights from the report include:
The Census Bureau has collected voting and registration data since 1964 and has fielded the Voting and Registration Supplement to the CPS every two years. This survey is the most comprehensive data source available on the social and demographic composition of the electorate in federal elections. Examining these characteristics and how they have changed over the years provides a better understanding of the social and demographic characteristics of American voters. More information on methodology, confidentiality protection, sampling and nonsampling error, and definitions is available at <https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsnov20.pdf>.
The estimates presented in this report may differ from those based on administrative data or exit polls due to factors such as survey nonresponse, vote misreporting and methodological issues related to question wording, and survey administration.
For detailed tables and data from previous presidential election years, visit the Voting and Registration webpage.
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