The US Census Bureau released data this week on the millions of Americans who moved between 2005 and 2006. The Census tables highlight demographic characteristics, including sex, race and ethnicity, income, educational attainment and other qualities.
Considering that persons must re-register at every new address to be eligible to cast a ballot, the effect that mobility can have on the enfranchisement of millions of Americans is enormous.
Highlights of the Census Geographic Mobility 2005-2006 data include:
*Latinos had the highest moving rate (18 percent) of any race or ethnicity, followed by Blacks (17 percent), Asians (14 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (12 percent).
*Americans between age 25 and 34 had the highest moving rate (24 percent) of all age categories; persons over 65 had the lowest moving rate (4 percent).
*Lower-income persons were more likely to move than higher-earning counterparts; unemployed Americans were much more likely to move (24 percent did so) than those who were employed (14 percent moved).
*Renters were much more likely to move (30 percent) than Americans who owned their housing unit (7 percent).
Young, low-income, minority, and renting populations were much more likely to move than older, higher-income, white, and home-owning counterparts. Voter registration requirements, therefore, have a disproportionate impact on the traditionally disenfranchised, often urban poor.
These observations make it is especially clear that laws, such as Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act – which requires public assistance agencies to provide opportunities for clients to register to vote – must be strongly enforced. Further, in the absence of comprehensive pro-active registration programs at the county level, regular voter registration drives, such as those sponsored by Project Vote, should be conducted amongst those populations with high mobility rates. For more information, here is the full Census Press Release; to learn about Project Vote, see the website and Voting Matters Blog.