Chart from “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout” by Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center, 5/15/17:
U.S. turnout in November 2016 was 56% of the voting age population (blue dots in the chart), 59% of citizens who could have registered and voted, but 87% of registered voters (yellow dots in the chart), a criterion that puts the US much higher in international standings. According to census data, only 70% of voting-age US citizens are registered to vote.
Can the remaining 30% be encouraged to register and vote? Certainly efforts in many states are going the other way, due to intimidating voter ID measures. We are fortunate in Pennsylvania that Governor Wolf established, three years ago, on-line voter registration (deadline to register for this spring’s primary election: 4/16/18).
According to Department of State data, the turnout in November 2016 was 78% of registered voters in Chester County, so unfortunately we were well behind the 87% national average. Clinton won by 25,000 votes, but her margin would likely have been higher if more people had voted, because turnout tends to favor Democrats.
US census data show Chesco has 367,554 US citizens age 18+, of whom 268,800 voted for president in 2016, thus 73% (compared to US 59%, so that looks better for us). Because Voter Services data include many voters who no longer live here, this 73% is probably the most significant figure.
Thus 27% of eligible Chesco voters either were not registered to vote or were registered and did not vote.Those 27% are the challenge for 2018.
If you know someone who needs to be convinced to register and/or vote, see the arguments here and then go to work.