Civic Engagement / Electoral Participation


Electoral Participation


Civic engagement refers to many aspects of community interactions including volunteerism, participation in social or religious organizations, and voter turnout. One measure of an engaged community is its levels of political or electoral participation, commonly measured through trends in voter turnout. Increased levels of voter turnout can in-turn lead to increased levels of community representation among leaders that lead to increased levels of social trust, and positive health outcomes.1,2

The electoral participation rate is based on how many citizens over the age of 18 are turning out and participating in the general elections for both Presidential and Non-Presidential Elections.

The data dashboard below shows current and recent trend data for electoral participation

Dashboard: Electoral Participation

Understanding Electoral Participation Spatially

The map below visualizes the percentage of eligible residents participating in the 2018 Midterm Elections by census tract across Forsyth County.

*Population totals taken from Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-year samples (2013-2017). Percentages depicted in this map are estimates.

Key Point: Presidential Elections Yield Higher Participation

  • Presidential elections generally have higher participation rates in Forsyth County than midterms.
  • An estimated 50% of Forsyth County eligible voters participated in the 2018 midterm elections.

Key Point: Highers Participation Rates Among Residents 65 to 84 Years Old 

  • Approximately 72% of residents aged 65 to 84 participated in the 2018 elections.
  • Residents 18 to 25 years old have the lowest participation rate with about 24% of eligible voters participating in the 2018 election.
  • Interestingly, residents 85 and older have similar participation rates compared to residents 30 to 49 years old as well as residents 50 to 64 years old.

Key Point: Higher Rates of Participation Among Women

  • Residents under 25 years generally sustain higher housing burdens than older residents.

Key Point: Disparities Present in Residents Participating in Elections by Race/Ethnicity

  • White, non-Hispanic residents had higher participation rates in the 2018 election than African Americans.
  • At least 18% of Hispanic/Latino residents voted in the 2018 election. It is possible that the actual percentage of Hispanic/Latino residents who voted is actually much higher because data on whether or not residents self-identify as Hispanic/Latino is missing from many of the voter registration files.*

*See data note for more information of electoral participation by race/ethnicity

Notes on Data

Electoral Participation by Race/Ethnicity: About 3% of registered voters are identified as Hispanic/Latino in the voter registration files, but 20% of registrations do not include any information on whether or not the resident is Hispanic/Latino. According the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey about 6% of citizens over the age of 18 in Forsyth County were Hispanic/Latino in 2017.1

  1. U.S. Department of Commerce. (2018). Citizen, Voting-age population by selected characteristics: Table S2901 [ Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2017]. Retrieved from


If you are interested in using data from this report for rigorous purposes, please contact for a consultation on how best to proceed.

Literature References
  1. Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B. P., & Glass, R. (1999). Social capital and self-rated health: a contextual analysis. American journal of public health, 89(8), 1187-1193.
  2. Kawachi, I., & Kennedy, B. P. (1997). Socioeconomic determinants of health: Health and social cohesion: why care about income inequality?. Bmj, 314(7086), 1037.
Data Sources
ACS public use microdata sample (PUMS). Washington, D.C. :U.S. Census Bureau.
North Carolina State Board of Elections. (2018). ncvoter34 (Updated 12/15/2018, 6:47 AM) [Data File]. Retrieved from