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Better Health, Greater Social Cohesion Linked to Voter Participation

September 17, 2020

Policy Brief

Authors: Susan H. Babey, PhD, Joelle Wolstein, PhD, MPP, MA, Shana Charles, Ph.D., M.P.P.

Summary: This policy brief describes voter registration and participation among California adults using data from the 2017–2018 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). 


Findings: Better health status, lower levels of psychological distress, and better access to health care were related to higher levels of voter participation. Higher levels of voter registration and participation were reported among those living in neighborhoods perceived as safe and as having high social cohesion. 


Among citizens, Asians and those with limited English proficiency were more likely to report that they were not registered to vote because they did not know how or where to register. Individuals who lacked a high school degree, whose incomes were below the poverty level, who were Latino/a, or who were non–native English speakers but spoke English very well or well were more likely to report a lack of eligibility as the main reason for not being registered to vote.


Strategies to increase voter engagement could help ensure that the voters better represent the diverse residents of California and could also promote policies that better meet the health needs of these populations.

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