United States Elections Project
   
 

2008 General Election Voter Registration Statistics

Last Updated: 3/6/09

Courtesy of the Associated Press Elections Research and Quality Control Group, here are their final compilation of the 2008 general election voter registration statistics.

In 2008, the nation experienced a 5.4% increase in registration over 2004, from 177.4 million to 187.0 million registrants. Statistics from the twenty-nine states that have partisan voter registration suggest that the national increase came primarily from Independents and Democrats. Among these twenty-nine states, the number of registrants identifying with the Democratic Party increased 10.8%, compared to 0.5% for Republicans and 12.0% for Independents.

To provide some perspective of limited value of these statistics, I express these numbers as a percent of the 2008 voting-eligible population or VEP. I caution drawing too much from these percentages since voter registration numbers are susceptible to what is termed "deadwood" - persons who no longer live at an address but remain on the voter registration files. As a consequence, some states' total registration as a percentage of the voting-eligible population is greater than 100%. As another consequence of deadwood, I note in a 2004 Brookings report that the percentage of persons reporting being registered to vote is much lower than the VEP registration rate.

States and localities may remove or "purge" names on the voter registration roles per provisions found in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as "Motor Voter." Procedures for purging deadwood vary from state to state and vary over time. More recently, some jurisdictions have matched records across various databases and used this information to remove names. A National Academy of Sciences report cautions against the existence of a match as proof that a person is indeed a matched person. This report graciously cites an Election Law Journal article by myself (Michael McDonald) and Justin Levitt on this issue. For further information, please see the Brennan Center's excellent report, Making the List.

It is for these reasons that I do not calculate turnout rates as a percentage of voter registration, even though many state and local government elections webpages do so. Since I admire the hard work of election administrators, I want to stress that voter registration turnout rates may be useful for their planning purposes. They are just not a good measure of voter participation due to deadwood and purging issues.

Note that North Dakota does not have voter registration, so the Associated Press assumes all persons of voting age are registered in that state. The North Dakota numbers reported here are slightly lower than the Associated Press' numbers since I remove from the state's voting-age population persons who are ineligible to vote, such as non-citizens and felons. The national numbers are also revised to reflect this change for North Dakota.

State
VEP
2008
Voter
Registration
Rate

2008
Total
Voter Registration

Voting
Eligible Population
  2002
Total
Voter Registration
2004
Total
Voter Registration
2006
Total
Voter Registration
  Change
'02 to '04
Change
'04 to '06
Change
'06 to '08
  Change
'04 to '08
United States 87.9% 186,983,927 212,720,027   165,182,673 177,423,549 174,849,216   7.4% -1.5% 6.9%   5.4%
Alabama 88.6% 3,010,638 3,398,289   2,618,433 2,842,985 2,713,493   8.6% -4.6% 11.0%   5.9%
Alaska 103.8% 495,731 477,763   458,217 474,740 467,414   3.6% -1.5% 6.1%   4.4%
Arizona 84.0% 3,441,141 4,096,006   2,704,917 2,896,748 3,061,540   7.1% 5.7% 12.4%   18.8%
Arkansas 82.8% 1,684,240 2,033,146   1,579,254 1,686,124 1,615,271   6.8% -4.2% 4.3%   -0.1%
California 78.7% 17,304,091 21,993,429   15,303,469 16,557,273 15,837,108   8.2% -4.3% 9.3%   4.5%
Colorado 93.3% 3,210,258 3,441,907   3,093,969 3,114,566 2,975,845   0.7% -4.5% 7.9%   3.1%
Connecticut 85.3% 2,091,980 2,451,296   1,995,684 2,012,709 2,046,487   0.9% 1.7% 2.2%   3.9%
Delaware 96.6% 601,348 622,664   519,727 550,984 557,703   6.0% 1.2% 7.8%   9.1%
District of Columbia 97.4% 426,761 438,201   363,168 383,919 395,926   5.7% 3.1% 7.8%   11.2%
Florida 90.5% 11,247,634 12,426,633   9,302,360 10,301,290 10,433,849   10.7% 1.3% 7.8%   9.2%
Georgia 90.1% 5,755,750 6,390,590   4,726,083 4,951,955 5,132,032   4.8% 3.6% 12.2%   16.2%
Hawaii 76.9% 691,356 898,922   676,242 647,238 662,728   -4.3% 2.4% 4.3%   6.8%
Idaho 83.3% 861,869 1,034,402   679,535 798,015 764,880   17.4% -4.2% 12.7%   8.0%
Illinois 87.9% 7,732,908 8,794,625   7,043,557 7,499,488 7,375,688   6.5% -1.7% 4.8%   3.1%
Indiana 97.4% 4,513,615 4,634,261   4,008,902 4,296,602 4,295,687   7.2% 0.0% 5.1%   5.1%
Iowa 99.6% 2,190,158 2,199,849   1,812,728 1,971,735 2,027,713   8.8% 2.8% 8.0%   11.1%
Kansas 88.4% 1,749,759 1,978,713   1,615,699 1,694,365 1,663,017   4.9% -1.9% 5.2%   3.3%
Kentucky 92.1% 2,906,809 3,156,794   2,649,084 2,794,285 2,766,288   5.5% -1.0% 5.1%   4.0%
Louisiana 93.3% 2,945,618 3,158,676   2,806,202 2,923,395 2,890,891   4.2% -1.1% 1.9%   0.8%
Maine 104.3% 1,068,461 1,024,699   950,059 1,023,956 995,548   7.8% -2.8% 7.3%   4.3%
Maryland 88.3% 3,432,645 3,888,726   2,774,613 3,070,099 3,144,846   10.6% 2.4% 9.2%   11.8%
Massachusetts 90.7% 4,220,488 4,652,749   3,972,622 4,098,634 3,990,505   3.2% -2.6% 5.8%   3.0%
Michigan 102.9% 7,470,764 7,263,250   6,797,293 7,164,047 7,180,778   5.4% 0.2% 4.0%   4.3%
Minnesota 100.5% 3,742,121 3,721,943   3,187,406 3,559,400 3,410,566   11.7% -4.2% 9.7%   5.1%
Mississippi 89.7% 1,895,583 2,114,108   1,806,668 1,922,001 1,788,501   6.4% -6.9% 6.0%   -1.4%
Missouri 97.9% 4,205,774 4,296,592   3,681,844 4,194,146 4,188,855   13.9% -0.1% 0.4%   0.3%
Montana 90.1% 668,085 741,538   620,548 638,474 649,436   2.9% 1.7% 2.9%   4.6%
Nebraska 90.5% 1,157,034 1,278,980   1,083,544 1,160,199 1,138,069   7.1% -1.9% 1.7%   -0.3%
Nevada 87.5% 1,446,425 1,652,846   869,801 1,071,101 1,229,229   23.1% 14.8% 17.7%   35.0%
New Hampshire 96.1% 958,528 997,247   690,159 855,861 850,836   24.0% -0.6% 12.7%   12.0%
New Jersey 92.4% 5,401,528 5,844,477   4,655,852 5,005,959 4,861,279   7.5% -2.9% 11.1%   7.9%
New Mexico 89.3% 1,229,163 1,376,025   950,743 1,105,372 1,088,977   16.3% -1.5% 12.9%   11.2%
New York 91.3% 12,031,312 13,183,464   11,246,362 11,837,068 11,669,573   5.3% -1.4% 3.1%   1.6%
North Carolina 95.1% 6,233,330 6,551,412   5,038,826 5,527,413 5,497,879   9.7% -0.5% 13.4%   12.8%
North Dakota 100.0% 486,871 486,871   476,251 482,722 486,142   1.4% 0.7% 0.2%   0.9%
Ohio 97.1% 8,291,239 8,541,239   7,113,826 7,972,826 7,860,052   12.1% -1.4% 5.5%   4.0%
Oklahoma 84.7% 2,184,092 2,578,351   2,067,911 2,143,978 2,067,316   3.7% -3.6% 5.6%   1.9%
Oregon 79.9% 2,153,914 2,695,058   1,872,615 2,141,249 1,976,669   14.3% -7.7% 9.0%   0.6%
Pennsylvania 93.5% 8,758,031 9,363,381   7,835,775 8,366,663 8,182,876   6.8% -2.2% 7.0%   4.7%
Rhode Island 93.0% 701,307 754,438   672,950 687,553 682,344   2.2% -0.8% 2.8%   2.0%
South Carolina 77.9% 2,553,923 3,279,329   2,047,368 2,315,462 2,452,714   13.1% 5.9% 4.1%   10.3%
South Dakota 96.2% 575,632 598,635   528,195 552,441 554,038   4.6% 0.3% 3.9%   4.2%
Tennessee 87.1% 3,946,481 4,533,233   3,347,979 3,704,040 3,738,703   10.6% 0.9% 5.6%   6.5%
Texas 91.8% 13,575,062 14,780,857   12,563,459 13,098,329 13,074,279   4.3% -0.2% 3.8%   3.6%
Utah 80.1% 1,432,525 1,787,350   1,135,492 1,278,251 1,302,405   12.6% 1.9% 10.0%   12.1%
Vermont 93.2% 454,466 487,430   418,718 444,508 433,569   6.2% -2.5% 4.8%   2.2%
Virginia 91.5% 5,034,660 5,500,265   4,219,956 4,517,980 4,555,940   7.1% 0.8% 10.5%   11.4%
Washington 80.0% 3,630,118 4,535,438   3,209,648 3,514,436 3,264,511   9.5% -7.1% 11.2%   3.3%
West Virginia 86.0% 1,212,117 1,409,823   1,060,892 1,168,694 1,137,371   10.2% -2.7% 6.6%   3.7%
Wisconsin 89.7% 3,688,195 4,113,565   4,086,868 4,169,875 3,448,767   2.0% -17.3% 6.9%   -11.6%
Wyoming 72.5% 282,389 389,304   241,200 232,396 263,083   -3.7% 13.2% 7.3%   21.5%

Twenty-nine states have partisan voter registration, typically as a consequence of having closed primaries in their history. These 2008 and 2004 numbers, plus the change from 2004 to 2008 are provided below. Note in some instances a state either does not have a category of voter registration, such as "independent", or the Associated Press was unable to obtain complete statistics, such as for Rhode Island in 2004.

I hestiate to provide national totals here. These statistics can be misleading since only twenty-nine states have partisan registration. A large state like California thus dominates the numbers. Still, the national totals indicate that the 5.4% national increase in registration over 2004 came primarily from Independents and Democrats. Among these twenty-nine states, the number of registrants identifying with the Democratic Party increased 10.8%, compared to 0.5% for Republicans and 12.0% for Independents.

   
2008
           
2004
     
Change '04 to '08
State Dem Rep Other Indep Total   Dem Rep Other Indep Total   Dem Rep Other Indep Total
Alaska 76,729 126,583 29,605 262,814 495,731   71,961 118,328 33,438 251,013 474,740   6.6% 7.0% -11.5% 4.7% 4.4%
Arizona 1,161,982 1,262,871 28,103 988,185 3,441,141   1,004,739 1,138,714 21,593 731,702 2,896,748   15.7% 10.9% 30.1% 35.1% 18.8%
California 7,683,495 5,428,052 747,621 3,444,923 17,304,091   7,120,425 5,745,518 765,429 2,925,901 16,557,273   7.9% -5.5% -2.3% 17.7% 4.5%
Colorado 1,056,080 1,065,154 19,525 1,069,499 3,210,258   947,866 1,125,374 12,440 1,028,886 3,114,566   11.4% -5.4% 57.0% 3.9% 3.1%
Connecticut 778,291 425,376 7,562 880,751 2,091,980   668,718 442,495 3,830 897,666 2,012,709   16.4% -3.9% 97.4% -1.9% 3.9%
Delaware 279,167 181,850 140,331 0 601,348   240,999 181,510 128,475 0 550,984   15.8% 0.2% 9.2% 9.1%
District of Columbia 321,027 30,465 5,929 69,340 426,761   286,084 30,179 6,770 60,886 383,919   12.2% 0.9% -12.4% 13.9% 11.2%
Florida 4,722,076 4,064,301 358,138 2,103,119 11,247,634   4,261,249 3,892,492 261,536 1,886,013 10,301,290   10.8% 4.4% 36.9% 11.5% 9.2%
Iowa 749,530 634,680 1,263 804,685 2,190,158   601,388 609,046 0 761,301 1,971,735   24.6% 4.2% 5.7% 11.1%
Kansas 484,710 771,019 11,147 482,883 1,749,759   454,478 783,068 11,710 445,109 1,694,365   6.7% -1.5% -4.8% 8.5% 3.3%
Kentucky 1,662,093 1,053,871 190,845 0 2,906,809   1,615,349 996,663 182,273 0 2,794,285   2.9% 5.7% 4.7% 4.0%
Louisiana 1,546,582 744,104 654,932 0 2,945,618   1,618,431 700,691 604,273 0 2,923,395   -4.4% 6.2% 8.4% 0.8%
Maine 347,023 283,872 34,375 403,191 1,068,461   319,198 287,452 24,155 393,151 1,023,956   8.7% -1.2% 42.3% 2.6% 4.3%
Maryland 1,946,823 927,798 72,370 485,654 3,432,645   1,699,558 901,617 31,802 437,122 3,070,099   14.5% 2.9% 127.6% 11.1% 11.8%
Massachusetts 1,559,464 490,259 28,887 2,141,878 4,220,488   1,526,711 532,319 39,542 2,000,062 4,098,634   2.1% -7.9% -26.9% 7.1% 3.0%
Nebraska 392,943 558,465 10,119 195,507 1,157,034   396,767 575,781 9,690 177,961 1,160,199   -1.0% -3.0% 4.4% 9.9% -0.3%
Nevada 625,109 513,574 78,632 229,110 1,446,425   429,808 434,239 45,434 161,620 1,071,101   45.4% 18.3% 73.1% 41.8% 35.0%
New Hampshire 282,421 280,507 0 395,600 958,528   228,395 267,141 0 360,325 855,861   23.7% 5.0% 9.8% 12.0%
New Jersey 1,794,906 1,057,365 2,415 2,546,842 5,401,528   1,163,224 884,801 19,372 2,938,562 5,005,959   54.3% 19.5% -87.5% -13.3% 7.9%
New Mexico 602,983 401,791 32,374 192,015 1,229,163   550,519 359,563 30,304 164,986 1,105,372   9.5% 11.7% 6.8% 16.4% 11.2%
New York 5,831,445 3,054,520 621,653 2,523,694 12,031,312   5,534,574 3,209,082 679,103 2,414,309 11,837,068   5.4% -4.8% -8.5% 4.5% 1.6%
North Carolina 2,849,979 1,994,494 3,370 1,385,487 6,233,330   2,580,437 1,909,589 13,046 1,024,341 5,527,413   10.4% 4.4% -74.2% 35.3% 12.8%
Oklahoma 1,079,373 859,872 0 244,847 2,184,092   1,101,072 816,933 720 225,253 2,143,978   -2.0% 5.3%   8.7% 1.9%
Oregon 929,741 695,677 96,574 431,922 2,153,914   829,197 761,717 72,653 477,682 2,141,249   12.1% -8.7% 32.9% -9.6% 0.6%
Pennsylvania 4,480,691 3,243,391 568,981 464,968 8,758,031   3,985,486 3,405,278 975,899 0 8,366,663   12.4% -4.8% -41.7% 4.7%
Rhode Island 298,388 76,651 0 326,268 701,307   0 0 0 0 687,553   2.0%
South Dakota 204,413 241,528 2,048 82,473 575,632   191,523 238,580 1,192 70,966 552,441   6.7% 1.2% 71.8% 16.2% 4.2%
West Virginia 675,305 353,437 16,264 167,111 1,212,117   680,464 349,193 10,043 128,994 1,168,694   -0.8% 1.2% 61.9% 29.5% 3.7%
Wyoming 72,577 168,431 1,474 39,907 282,389   62,385 146,328 23,683 0 232,396   16.3% 15.1% -93.8% 21.5%