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Most Politically Engaged States

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As elections approach, NerdWallet took a closer look at which states have the most politically engaged voters. Across the United States, only 71.2 percent of citizens were registered to vote in 2012, and only 61.8 percent of citizens voted. Some places take their civic duty seriously, though, and sent 75 percent of citizens to the polls.

We gauged political engagement by state like this:

1. Are residents prepared to vote? We included the percentage of citizens who were registered to vote in the 2012 election.

2. Do residents actually vote? We included the percentage of citizens who voted in the 2012 election.

Most Politically Engaged

1.    District of Columbia

Our nation’s capital came in at No. 1. Over 80 percent of the population was registered to vote, and D.C. has the highest voter turnout rate of any state or district. Almost 76 percent of citizens living in D.C. voted.

2.    Mississippi

Mississippi had the highest percentage of registered voters of any state. Over 84 percent of citizens in Mississippi were registered to vote, though 10 percent of registered citizens didn’t make it to the polls, leaving a voter rate of 74.5 percent.

3.    Minnesota

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, 6 percent of registered voters didn’t cast ballots. 79 percent of citizens were registered to vote, and 73.2 percent of citizens voted in 2012.

4.    Wisconsin

Wisconsin should be celebrated for its civic engagement, as well as its dairy products. 78.1 percent of citizens were registered to vote, and 73.6 percent cast ballots in 2012, leaving 5 percent of the citizen population who registered, but did not vote.

5.    Massachusetts

The Bay State is known for its role in the American Revolution and ensuing American politics. Over 78 percent of citizens were registered to vote, and over 70 percent of citizens voted.

6.    North Carolina

10 percent of North Carolina citizens who were registered to vote didn’t make it to the polls in 2012.  78.9 percent of citizens were registered to vote, and 68.9 percent voted in 2012.

7.    Iowa

Home to the Iowa Caucus, the first major electoral event of the presidential nominations, Iowa keeps its citizens engaged. Over 78 percent of Iowa’s residents were registered to vote, and more than 69 percent voted in the 2012 election.

8.    Maine

77.1 percent of citizens in the Pine Tree State were registered to vote in 2012, and 68.6 percent made it to the polls.

9.    New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s motto is “Live Free or Die,” and residents take their civic duty seriously. 75.9 percent of citizens were registered to vote, and 69.4 percent of citizens voted in the 2012 election.

10. Michigan

77.8 percent of citizens living in the Mitten were registered to vote in 2012, and 66.8 percent of citizens voted.

 

Rank State Percent registered (Citizen) Percent voted (Citizen) Overall score
1 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 83.4 75.9 98.4
2 MISSISSIPPI 84.2 74.5 97.5
3 MINNESOTA 79 73.2 84.9
4 WISCONSIN 78.1 73.6 83.9
5 MASSACHUSETTS 78.7 70.8 80.1
6 NORTH CAROLINA 78.9 68.9 77.1
7 IOWA 78.2 69.4 76.6
8 MAINE 77.1 68.6 73
9 NEW HAMPSHIRE 75.9 69.4 72
10 MICHIGAN 77.8 66.8 71.2
11 COLORADO 74.4 70.4 70.8
12 LOUISIANA 77.1 66.3 68.9
13 OREGON 74.3 67.6 65.7
14 VIRGINIA 74.6 66.9 65
15 MISSOURI 76.7 63.9 63.8
16 DELAWARE 73.3 67.3 63.2
17 MONTANA 73.3 65.7 60.3
18 WASHINGTON 73.1 65.6 59.7
19 NORTH DAKOTA 74.5 63.9 59.5
20 SOUTH CAROLINA 73.3 64.7 58.5
21 KANSAS 74.4 63.3 58.2
22 MARYLAND 72.1 65.1 56.9
23 VERMONT 73.4 63.3 56.2
24 RHODE ISLAND 73.5 62.5 55
25 SOUTH DAKOTA 74.8 61 54.9
26 ALABAMA 73.5 61.9 53.9
27 NEW JERSEY 73 61.9 53
28 ILLINOIS 72.7 61.5 51.6
29 OHIO 71.1 63.1 51.3
30 IDAHO 70 63.9 50.6
31 PENNSYLVANIA 71.9 61.6 50.2
32 CONNECTICUT 70.4 62.7 49.2
33 GEORGIA 70.7 61.9 48.4
34 KENTUCKY 72.1 59.3 46.5
35 ALASKA 72.8 58.4 46.3
36 NEBRASKA 69.5 61.6 45.5
37 NEW MEXICO 68.6 61.6 43.7
38 FLORIDA 68.3 60.8 41.7
39 INDIANA 69.2 59.3 40.8
40 NEW YORK 67.9 58.7 37.2
41 TENNESSEE 68.6 55.7 33.2
42 CALIFORNIA 65.6 57.5 30.5
43 NEVADA 65 57.9 30
44 WYOMING 63.9 58.9 29.6
45 ARIZONA 65.2 55.9 26.9
46 TEXAS 66.9 53.8 26.5
47 UTAH 63.5 57 25.5
48 ARKANSAS 65.3 53.3 22.4
49 OKLAHOMA 66.1 52.4 22.4
50 WEST VIRGINIA 68.1 47.8 18.2
51 HAWAII 58.9 51.6 6.8

Data obtained from the U.S. Census