Where New Yorkers Don’t Vote
Where are people not voting in New York City municipal elections?
In other words, of the people who could vote (citizens age 18 and above), what’s the rate of those who actually cast a ballot? We combined demographic data from the American Community Survey and voter history data from the New York City Board of Elections to color in census tracts by their level of voter participation.
Here’s how we did it:
Who Voted in 2009?
For this map, we looked at voters in the 2009 municipal election (primary, runoff and/or general election). Although turnout in 2009 was relatively low, it remains the most up-to-date look at where municipal election voters were living in New York City. The Board of Elections has publicly available voter roll and voter history data which includes the address of each voter and which election they voted in, going back to the 1980s. To calculate the number of people who voted in each census tract, we geocoded and mapped the address of all voters in the 2009 election. After mapping the 2009 voters, we sorted them into census tracts by using the “points in polygon” function of an open-source mapping program called Quantum GIS.
Who is Eligible to Vote?
Using the most recent census tract-level demographic data (2011 American Community Survey 5-year estimates), we found the total number of citizens age 18 or older for each census tract in New York City.
Because of the nature of the ACS data, we are unable to account for people that are in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, or adjudged mentally incompetent by a court, who do not have the right to vote. In addition to this, our map does not capture the moving that some residents have done since the 2009 election or the 2011 ACS survey. Despite these limitations, we feel that the map gives a clear overview of voter engagement in municipal elections.
How to Register
With the August 16 voter registration deadline quickly approaching, this map is a reminder that there are still many eligible voters in our city that are not yet voting. Here’s our guide for registering to vote in New York and looking up your polling location.
— Jenny Ye