The percentage of adult residents that voted in the election with the highest number of voters that year in the City of St. Louis
Residents in majority-white wards are 30% more likely to vote than residents in majority-black wards.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Voter Turnout, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white residents are equally likely to vote in elections. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal: we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Voter Turnout measures the percentage of adult residents that voted in the election with the highest number of voters that year in the City of St. Louis. In any given year, there can be primary, general, or special elections. The election with the most votes cast in 2016 was the General Election held on November 8, 2016. There were 133,383 votes cast in the 2016 election, which translates to a 53.4% voter turnout rate.
Voter Turnout analysis
Adults that cast votes by ward in St. Louis City.
|All wards||Majority- white wards||Majority- black wards||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Voter Turnout||53.4%||60.4%||46.3%||1.304 to 1||70|
Data Source: Missouri Secretary of State, 2016; Ward population calculated from American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 2012-2016.
Data Note: We used voting-age adults instead of registered voters as the point of comparison due to research that shows voting registration records are frequently out of date and inaccurate. This will produce an underestimate of voter turnout since it does not remove persons ineligible to vote, such as non-citizens and convicted felons.
What does this analysis mean?
Residents of majority-white wards are 30% more likely to vote than residents of majority-black wards. In 2016, 60.4% of residents of majority-white wards voted compared to 46.3% of residents of majority-black wards. Residents of no-majority wards are more likely to vote than residents of majority-black wards but less likely to vote than residents of majority-white wards, with a voter turnout rate of 53.5%. If voter turnout rates were equitable, there would be 15,820 more votes cast in majority-black wards.
Why does Voter Turnout matter?
Voter Turnout is an indicator of political power, influence, and engagement. Voting allows people to choose their leaders and voice their positions on issues. While voter turnout can measure political participation among residents, it is also an indicator of whether residents are U.S. citizens, are registered to vote, or are unable to vote due to criminal status (disenfranchisement). According to Missouri law, "a person convicted of any crime may not vote while confined under a sentence of imprisonment or while on parole or probation."
The Sentencing Project estimates that 7.7% of all black Americans are disenfranchised due to a current or past felony conviction (compared to 2.5% of all Americans). Since black Americans are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, voter disenfranchisement has a disproportionate effect on the black population.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
While there are no Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission focused on increasing voter turnout, the report calls for ensuring communities’ ability to advocate for equity.
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there racial disparity in Voter Turnout?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Voter Turnout?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Voter Turnout?
How can I learn more about this issue?
Learn more about the disproportionate effect voter disenfranchisement has on the black population from The Sentencing Project.
Register to vote at your post office, public assistance office, or DMV, or download a voter registration form.