The election data compiled by Greg Wythe over at the Texas Political Almanac is enlightening and valuable. I’m most interested in how District J compares to the rest of the city. It was obvious to me that while J has a population within 5% of the average for all districts, the real component of political influence would be actual voters. Greg had written before about the Voting Age Population (VAP) and the Citizen VAP (CVAP) metrics, and it is clear to me that J skews younger, containing many households with children. Other districts lean older, and those folks tend to register and vote more often. So I pasted The TPA data into the free “Many Eyes” visualization tool and produced the following bubble chart:
City of Houston – 2009 General Election – Voter Turnout by Council District
Here’s a link to the interactive version which allows you to display the data as you desire. In addition here’s a table version of the data.
So in my view, the number of registered voters in J as a ratio of those actually eligible to vote (estimated by CVAP) is 81%, which slightly exceeds the average city wide. I don’t see much of a chance to increase participation by registering new voters. The new District K compared to J has almost double the population eligible to vote, yet has the lowest registration rate (by CVAP) of all districts at barely 70%. Just meeting the average would mean an extra 10,000 votes cast in District K. I have to think that Officials holding the city wide seats already know this clearly.
The opportunity as I see it is to understand why someone would be registered to vote, and yet unlikely to participate in a municipal election. These are folks who are engaged enough to take the time to register, yet are disinterested in choosing the person to represent them at the most basic level, city government. Comments and feedback welcome as I explore this topic further.