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For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 7, 2005
Contact:  Kim Alexander or Saskia Mills, 530-750-7650,

California Voter Foundation Releases Comprehensive Results
of Survey on Voting Incentives and Barriers

Results available online at

Davis, CA – Today the California Voter Foundation (CVF) released its California Voter Participation Survey report, a comprehensive analysis of California infrequent voters and nonvoters' attitudes toward voting.  The new report provides a detailed look at the results of a 2004 CVF survey designed to better understand the incentives and barriers to voting in California, particularly among groups currently underrepresented in California's electorate.  The report is available in print and online at

“Millions of Californians are eligible to vote but not registered.  Millions more vote infrequently,” said Kim Alexander, CVF's president and founder.  “Our new report sheds light on what's keeping many Californians from exercising their voting rights, and provides strategies for increasing participation in the future.”

The survey found that nonvoters are disproportionately young, single, less educated and more likely to be of an ethnic minority than infrequent voters.  Forty percent of California's nonvoters are under the age of thirty, and only 34 percent of nonvoters are married. Seventy-six percent of nonvoters have less than a college degree, and 54 percent are white or Caucasian, compared to 60 percent of infrequent voters.

“Though California's population grows increasingly younger and more diverse, California's voting population continues to be dominated by older, white voters,” Alexander said.  “By addressing the barriers that confront California's would-be voters, we can begin to shape an electorate that truly reflects our state's diversity.”

Among the report's key findings:

Greatest incentives:  The two most important reasons for voting cited most often are “to make your voice heard/express your opinion” and “to support a particular candidate.”  Over 90 percent of infrequent voters surveyed agreed that “Voting is an important part of being a good citizen” and “Voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and your community.”

Greatest barriers:  The two most important reasons for not voting cited the most often are “I'm too busy to vote” and “There are no candidates I believe in.”  The perception that politics are controlled by special interests is widely held and represents a significant barrier to participation.  Job hours were the biggest factor leading infrequent voters to say they're too busy to vote, and more than half of those surveyed said they work more than 40 hours a week.  More than half also said they are not familiar with absentee voting.

Eighteen percent of nonvoters surveyed said they thought they were registered to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Twenty-three percent of nonvoters surveyed said they do not want to register to vote because they want their information to be private. The logistics of the voting process were more of a barrier for Spanish-speaking infrequent voters, who cited difficulty in locating their polling places, getting help from pollworkers and accessing voting materials in their preferred language at a much higher rate than infrequent voters generally.

Sources of information and influence:  Infrequent voters' family members were found to be as influential as newspapers when it comes to deciding how to vote.  However, among nonvoters, only half said their friends vote or said that they grew up in families that discuss political issues and candidates.  Latino, African American and Asian Pacific Islander nonvoters were less likely to live in a pro-voting culture than other nonvoters.

Nearly half of the infrequent voters surveyed said election information is hard to understand, while 29 percent said it is untrustworthy.  Among nonvoters, 39 percent said it is hard to understand and the same number said it was untrustworthy.  The survey results indicated that African American infrequent voters and nonvoters are more distrustful of election information than infrequent voters and nonvoters generally.

Strategies:  CVF's report outlines a number of strategies that can be pursued to increase voter participation in California, such as:

More detailed information about all of these findings and recommended strategies is available in the complete report.  The 170-page report is available online and features dozens of charts and graphs that illustrate the survey's findings, as well as a detailed cross-tabulation analysis of the results among African American, Latino and Asian Pacific Islanders surveyed.

The survey was conducted between July 25 and September 22, 2004.  It included 1,054 citizens who are eligible but not registered to vote, and 1,091 registered voters who voted in zero or one of the last four statewide elections.  The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.  The survey was conducted for CVF by David Binder Research, with support provided by The James Irvine Foundation.  Preliminary findings were released by CVF in October 2004.

The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advancing the responsible use of technology to improve the democratic process.  Since 1994, CVF has served California voters by providing nonpartisan, online election information.

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This page was first published on April 7 , 2004 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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