We have discussed before that elections are as much about who shows up to vote as they are about who or what is on the ballot. Understanding who is most likely to vote can help communities better assess the civic health of their area. This is why it is also important to look at the data from many different demographic perspectives: age, race, geography, gender, etc.
Let’s take a look at voter turnout by gender in Kansas.
In Kansas, more women are registered to vote than men. Which mirrors our voting age population (1,109,874 women vs 1,083,357 men).
Currently, 10% more women are registered to vote than men.
However, when we look at voter turnout, women slightly under perform their registration advantage. For example, while the January 2020 voter file shows male registration was 90% of women, it also shows the turnout for the municipal primary of 2019 had male turnout at 85% of female. This means that while women had a 10% higher registration advantage, men are narrowing the gap from 10% to 5% when actually turning out to vote.
Another way to explain this is by looking at the turnout for the 2018 general election. In 2018, 563,918 women voted of the 1,059,249 eligible (53.2%) and 497,789 men voted of the 1,032,265 eligible (48.2%). This shows a 5% gender gap in turnout.
In the below graph, you can see that women consistently turn out to vote at a higher percentage than men; however their turnout is consistently well below their 10% registration advantage. This graph shows voter turnout by gender for the 2019 municipal primary, the 2018 general, the 2017 municipal primary, and the 2016 general elections – all with women outperforming men by 4-5%.
So, while more women are registered to vote, and more women turnout to vote than men, a higher percentage of the registered men actually turn out to vote.
The data indicates here that women are more civically involved than men in Kansas, this is also a moment where the data can be problematic. The U.S. Census and many other data sources force individuals to make a binary choice of male or female when filling out their sex or gender information. However, for many in our state and country, their gender identity may fall more on a spectrum and may not be as black and white as simply “male” or “female.” This leads to many individuals leaving their sex or gender information blank.
Using the data to understand and assess the civic health of a community can be incredibly powerful; however, we hope that data collectors will continue to expand their options for individuals to self-identify their demographics. This way we will not be forcing people into specific categories they don’t identify with and can instead fully understand our communities as they are.
Above all, this data demonstrates the importance of continuing to break down barriers to civic participation for all Kansans, regardless of gender.