Charts of the Week: Voting and democracy

Fireworks explode over Washington with the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument in view during celebrations for the second inauguration of U.S. President George W. Bush, January 19, 2005. Washington is hosting three days of celebrations leading up to Bush's second inaugural January 20. REUTERS/Molly Riley  MR - RP5DRIGMKMAA

This week in 1971, President Richard Nixon formally certified the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which lowered the legal voting age to 18. The amendment had been passed by Congress and ratified by the states over the preceding three months. To commemorate, this edition of Charts of the Week brings you Brookings research about voting and democracy.

Registering to vote at tax time

Figure 2: Filer Voter program more than doubles likelihood of registering to vote The U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout. Governance Studies Senior Fellow Vanessa Williamson examined the Filer Voter experiment in Texas and Ohio, which showed a doubling of the likelihood of tax filers registering to vote. “Voter registration at tax time has the potential to not only increase the voter pool, but to make the voting population more closely mirror the citizenry as a whole,” Williamson writes.

White voters’ support of Democrats inCREASED FROM 2016 TO 2018

2018.11.08_Metro_Post-Midterms-Analysis_Frey-Chart-02 While President Trump won among white voters overall in 2016, a shift of white voters led to Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm elections. “Comparing the national vote for 2018 House of Representative members with the 2016 presidential vote,” Senior Fellow William Frey writes, “the white Republican vote advantage decreased by half.” This “provided a stark contrast to 2016 election results.”

Demand for government reform by party

Figure 2 The demand for very major reform by party 1997-2018 Historically, voters in the minority party demand government reform more than voters of the party in power. New York University professor Paul Light, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies, notes this partisan disparity during Obama’s presidency, in which more Republicans than Democrats favored reform. However, Light’s study finds that the differences along party lines are less pronounced under President Trump. “Trump divided the nation on major issues such as immigration, identity, and Obamacare, but brought the nation together on the demand for reform,” he writes. Betsy Broaddus made significant contributions to this post.