Voting & Democracy2021-04-21T20:57:27+00:00

To grow up resilient, powerful, and heard kids must be a priority in

Voting & Democracy.

Registered Voters

Voter registration numbers are high, but more needs to be done to increase participation.

  • As of January 2021, there were 527,652 registered voters in the District. Between 2014 and 2020, voter registration has steadily increased each election cycle.
  • As estimated 94% of DC’s eligible voters are registered to vote based on the most recently available data. As of 2019, the District’s citizen voting age population was 536,768 when 505,465 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 2020, 92% of registered voters were Democrats, 7% were Republican and less than 1% 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 (15%, 13%, and 12% respectively).

DC Eligible Voters by Age

Race & Equity

Registered Voters by Race (2020)







Ballots Cast

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 wards with the highest number of white residents (wards 3 and 4), 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 2018.
  • In the general election, the difference between the highest turnout ward and lowest turnout ward was 23.6% in 2018 and 20.5% in 2014. In the primary, it was 15% in 2018 and 20% in 2014.

DC Voter Turnout by Ward

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.

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Voter Turnout

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, DC voters cast their ballots for two at-large council seats and the ward 2, 4, 7, and 8 council seats are 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.

DC Election Participation Trends

Registered Voters  Ballots Cast Voter Turnout
2020 Presidential Year
General 517,890 346,491 66.9%
Primary 410,260 114,890 28.0%
General 500,511 231,700 46.3%
Primary 479,723 89,513  18.7%
2016 Presidential Year
General 478,688 312,575 65.3%
Primary 461,575 100,423 21.8%
General 461,325 177,377 38.5%
Primary 369,037 99,394 26.9%

Kawanza Billy
Project Manager, Black Swan Academy

Real Stories

“We understand the importance of whole families being counted and equitably represented in Washington, DC. Our young people are passionate about service and raising awareness, and ensuring much-needed resources get to their communities is a way of doing that.”

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Find more information about all the voting and democracy measures in our data references section and visit our appendix to download a table with the full DC Kids Count 2021 data set.