To grow up resilient, powerful, and heard kids must be a priority in
Voting & Democracy.
Voter registration numbers are high, but more needs to be done to increase participation.
- As of January 2023, there were 518,845 registered voters in the District. Between 2014 and 2020, voter registration steadily increased each election cycle, though has decreased since then.
- An estimated 96% of DC’s adults are registered to vote based on the most recently available data. As of 2021, the District’s population aged 18 and up was 544,215 when 524,088 residents were registered to vote.
- Approximately 50% of registered DC voters are Black, 31% white, 6% Latinx, and the remaining 13% other or unknown race. These estimates are within five or six points of the District’s overall population, but do not reflect voter participation rates.
- In the most recent primary cycle 2022, 92% of registered voters were Democrats, 6% were Republican and 1% or fewer each were Libertarian or Statehood Green. Party affiliation across the wards was relatively consistent, only wards 2, 3, and 6 had more than 10% of their voters register for a party other than Democrat (12%, 11%, and 13% respectively).
DC Eligible Voters by Age
Race & Equity
Registered Voters by Race (2020)
Voter participation varies greatly by ward and election cycle, with notable disparities across the District.
- While there has been some progress toward higher turnout in recent years, major participation disparities continue to persist. For example, the two wards with the lowest voter participation in every election since at least 2014 (wards 7 and 8), include the highest number of Black residents, housing instability, and poverty rates. While the wealthiest ward with the highest number of white residents (ward 3) typically had the highest voter turnout in those same elections.
- In the general election, the difference between the highest turnout ward and lowest turnout ward was 23% in 2020 and 22% in 2016. In the primary, it was 21% in 2020 and 14% in 2016.
- In the general election, the difference between the highest turnout ward and lowest turnout ward was 29% in 2022, 23.6% in 2018 and 20.5% in 2014. In the primary, it was 23% in 2022, 15% in 2018 and 20% in 2014.
DC Voter Turnout by Ward (2022 general)
Impacts of COVID-19
The pandemic upended elections in 2020, and drove home the point that we need to make it easier for everyone to participate in our democracy. This means fighting to win statehood, strengthening our public financing of our elections program, enfranchising more residents, and making it easier for everyone to cast their ballot.
Participation is higher during presidential election years because the top of the ticket helps drive turnout.
- Even though more District-wide seats are on the ballot during non-presidential election years, turnout drops during those cycles.
- In addition to the presidential race, in 2020 DC voters cast their ballots for two at-large council seats and the ward 2, 4, 7, and 8 council seats were on the ballot during presidential cycle elections. Between the 2016 and 2020 elections, voter participation increased from 22% to 28% in the primary, and 65% to 67% in the general.
- During non-presidential elections, DC voters cast their ballots for mayor, attorney general, and council chair, two at-large council seats and the ward 1, 3, 5, and 6 council seats. Voter participation between the 2014 and 2018 elections decreased from 27% to 19% in the primary, but increased from 38% to 46% in the general, tracking with the Blue Wave other parts of the country experienced. In 2022 participation evened out a bit in the general (to 41% turnout) and continued to increase for the primary (to 32%).
DC Election Participation Trends
|Registered Voters||Ballots Cast||Voter Turnout|
|2020 Presidential Year|
|2016 Presidential Year|
Project Manager, Black Swan Academy