Election 2016

America Hits New Landmark: 200 Million Registered Voters

By SHANE GOLDMACHER | October 19, 2016 | SOURCE: Politico

The 2016 campaign may have reached dispiriting new lows, but voter registration in America has soared to new heights as 200 million people are now registered to vote for the first time in U.S. history.

The milestone is a sign of the aggressive voter registration efforts ahead of Nov. 8 and a symptom of the fast-growing and demographically shifting electorate that is expected to redound to the benefit of the Democratic Party in the coming years.

There is no current national database of voter registration because each state independently runs its own election. But TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told POLITICO that the country passed the 200 million threshold in recent days as North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and New York reported new voter numbers.

Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, said national registration now stands at 200,081,377 voters.

The figure means more than 50 million new people have registered to vote in the past eight years. Only 146.3 million were registered as recently as 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama first won the White House — a remarkable 33 percent surge in the electorate during a single presidency.

The last time a Clinton was on the presidential ballot 20 years ago, the electorate was 127.6 million people.

In a study earlier this year, the Pew Research Center said that the 2016 electorate would be the “most racially and ethnically diverse ever,” forecasting 31 percent of the vote would come from ethnic minorities, up from 29 percent in 2012.

“It remains to be seen how different demographics perform proportionally but we are very encouraged by the early signs that we have seen,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters this week. 

The electorate has been growing by leaps in recent years, with Hispanic population growth behind much of the surge. Two decades ago, in 1996, there were not even 200 million people of voting-age population in the United States, let alone registered voters.

“We do expect more voters to turnout in this election than any in our history,” Mook told reporters this week.

Previously, the biggest turnout in presidential election history came in 2008, when 131.4 million people voted (turnout dipped slightly to 129.2 million in 2012).

By percentage, however, the share of eligible Americans who actually complete ballots is not expected to be anywhere near a record. It has been nearly a half-century since 60 percent of voting-age adults voted. That last happened in 1968.

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