September 1, 2000


Number of Hispanics Who Vote Up "Sharply"

The Census Bureau reports more than one-half million more Hispanics voted in the congressional elections of 1998 than did in 1994, increasing this ethnic group's presence at the polls from 3.5 million to 4.1 million, according to new analysis by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

"While the overall number of voters nationwide dropped by 2.6 million, the number of Hispanics going to the polls between 1994 and 1998 rose sharply," said Jennifer Day, co-author of Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1998, a report released in July.

Day noted that the number of Hispanic citizens of voting age increased from 10.4 million in 1994 to 12.4 million in 1998. The overall turnout rate for Hispanic citizens of voting age was unchanged between 1994 and 1998 33 percent. Nationally, the turnout rate for all U.S. citizens of voting age fell from 48 percent in 1994 to 45 percent in 1998, which was the lowest participation rate recorded since the Census Bureau began collecting voting and registration data in 1964.

The data in the report were collected in the November 1998 Current Population Survey (CPS) two weeks after the election. As in all surveys, data are subject to sampling variability and other sources of errors. The CPS routinely overestimates voter turnout. Possible reasons include understatement of actual votes cast; overreporting by survey respondents who want to demonstrate their civic responsibility; misreporting of voting because of refusals or lack of knowledge on the part of proxy respondents; and survey undercoverage.

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