What is voter turnout like in recent elections? How do Americans vote? How are Americans represented in government?
Explore data on turnout rates, representation, and methods of voting.
While there are federal election laws, the federal government has a limited role in the election process. State and local governments administer elections and certify results, including federal elections.
Level of government
State election agencies
Monitor and enforce state elections laws
Local election agencies
Several, including administering elections
Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
Develop guidance for election administration requirements; serve as a national clearinghouse on election administration information
Level of government
Voter turnout refers to the percentage of people who vote in a given election. The data shown in this section is from Census Bureau reports released after federal elections. The percentage shown is the share of the population who are both citizens and of voting age who cast ballots in those elections. The 26th Amendment of the Constitution lowered age restrictions on voting in all elections for any citizen 18 years or older. States can restrict voting based on criminal convictions. The Department of Justice published a state-by-state guide on those restrictions in 2022. The data shown here doesn't account for disqualifications from voting.
Elections for all US House seats are held every even-numbered year, along with about a third of all Senate seats. Presidential elections are held every four years. Elections in which there is no presidential vote are called midterms. Midterm elections generally have lower turnout than presidential election years.
The Election Assistance Commission releases a report after every federal election on how elections are run at local levels. The report on the 2020 election showed a shift away from in-person Election Day voting toward mail-in ballots.
In addition to voting for president, voters living in one of the 50 states elect senators and House members to represent them in the federal government. (Residents of Washington, DC, don't have senators or a voting member of the House.) Each state has two senators, while the number of representatives is based on the population in the decennial census. Legislation in 1929 capped the number of House representatives at 435. Each state has at least one representative, while additional seats are allotted based on a formula.
Because the population has increased since the early 20th century and the number of House representatives hasn't, the number of people each representative serves has grown, based on Census Bureau data. After reapportionment, House districts within states generally have the same population, but the population of the districts differs by state. Because the Census takes place every 10 years, the change in population during the intervening years leads to further imbalance in district population size.
When voters cast ballots for president and vice president on Election Day, they’re actually voting for a slate of electors who have pledged to vote for their favored candidates. Most states (with the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska) use a “winner-take-all” system of choosing electors who pledge to cast for the candidate that wins the majority of the state’s popular vote.
The data shown here is from the Federal Election Commission, which aggregates federal election results from every state. The national popular vote does not determine who is elected president. The popular vote winner has lost the presidential election five times in US history, twice in the 21st century.
Voters indirectly elect the president in the electoral college system. Each state's electoral vote count equals the number of representatives and senators from that state. Washington, DC, has no representatives or senators, but has three electoral college votes.
Read more about how the electoral college works.