California Civic Participation Map

The purpose of this research is to identify which counties in California are underperforming in terms of civic engagement. By comparing the Citizen, Voting Age Population (CVAP) against registered and voting percentages, we can compare the level of participation at each stage by using 2020 as the base year. Through exploring these factors, this project identifies the counties that need to place additional attention on enhancing voter education and outreach, highlighting a need for policy changes or suggestions that could ameliorate existing voting disparities in California.

10 California Counties with Lower Voter Turnout

The below map displays the 10 California counties with the greatest need for voter outreach across their respective communities. This calculated need is based on their large number of eligible voter populace and low voter turnout. The ten highlighted counties with the lowest voter turnout percentage are: Kern, Imperial, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Kings, Merced, and Tulare County.

Data displayed on this map above is gathered from the United States Census Bureau and Secretary of State websites. Registration and Turnout Estimates were retrieved from the Secretary of State for this map and all other displayed data was received from the United States Census Bureau

How 10 counties were identified as having the greatest need

The goal was to pinpoint counties in California with the greatest need for voter outreach and general support during the voting process.

To begin identifying which counties to highlight, all 58 California counties were ranked by their voter turnout of registered voters for the 2020 Presidential General election from lowest to highest and subsequently compared against the state average (80.67%). The 16 counties that had under 80% turnout in 2020 were then sorted by their eligible voting population size from largest to smallest. Using this methodology, 10 counties (shown right) were identified as having the greatest need.

About the counties

  • 7 counties are in the Central Valley
  • 3 counties are in Southern California
  • VCA Counties: Los Angeles, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced, Kings

10 Counties’ Voter Participation Statistics

CVAP: Citizen Voting Age Population. In other words, the CVAP accounts for all eligible voters within a given area, regardless of registration or turnout status.

Registration Rate: The concentration of eligible voters that have also registered to vote. The percentage for this data is created by dividing the population of registered voters to the collective CVAP.

Turnout: The people who voted in a given year or election. Turnout is specified in comparison to a given population. For example, Turnout of Registered Population results from dividing the population of those who voted by the total population of registered voters. Turnout of CVAP refers to those who voted out of the entire population of eligible voters.

Poverty: A state of living in which a person’s income is less than what is needed for a given standard of living. Persons identified as living in a state of poverty include those with an income below the poverty level. The poverty rates shown in the map above are provided by the United States Census Bureau.

Limited English Proficiency Rate: Accounts for all people above the age of 5 years old that are limited in their English language comprehension out of the entire population above the age of 5 years old in a given county. These limitations vary between speaking English “well” (but not “very well”), “not very well”, and “not at all”. This data is gathered by combining the groups of people who speak English less than “very well”, and then dividing that sum by the total population above 5 years of age.

VCA: The Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) requires participating counties to establish an Election Administration Plan (EAP) utilizing public input. This plan should be designed to outline how the county will create education, outreach, and transparency for voters, as well as translating their plan to all languages established by the California Secretary of State.