Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alaska Election Context 1 - 96% of Alaska Voting Age Population Registered to Vote

It would appear from the data available that somewhere between 94% and 97% of Alaskans of voting age are registered to vote.  The national average is about 70%.   Basically, what I think this means is that the Alaska Division of Elections list of registered voters is carrying a lot of names - I'm guessing about 125,000 or 25% - of people who are no longer Alaskan residents - they've either moved away or died.


Registered Alaska Voters = 487,000  - official (Table Y below from Div of Elections)
Voting Age Alaskans  = 506,000 (2008 Census Data) (Table 16 below)
Percent of Voting Age Americans Registered to vote = 68-70% (Table 1 below from 2010 Census Survey)
Percent of Voting Age Alaskans Registered to Vote = somewhere from 94% - 96%
70% of Voting Age Alaskans
(if the same as general US rate) = 354,200
Number of Possible Phantom Registered Alaskan Voters = 133,000 (about 27%)

In the rest of this post I'll go through the numbers.  In a follow up post I'll speculate what this means about the Republican primary yesterday that has Joe Miller slightly ahead of incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Numbers

From the Alaska Division of Elections website, we learn that there are 487,575 registered voters in Alaska. 

(I realize these tables go into the right column, but otherwise the numbers are too small for most and the lost numbers don't matter much.)

(438 PRECINCTS) 487,575 14,464 74,802 9,392 126,486 78,189 177,219 2,373 2,892 1,758
(These numbers are at the very bottom of the page on the website.  Here's what all those initials mean:

Political Parties:
A – Alaskan Independence Party
D – Alaska Democratic Party
L – Alaska Libertarian Party
R – Alaska Republican Party

Political Groups:
G – Green Party of Alaska
M – Republican Moderate Party Inc.
V – Veterans Party of Alaska

N – Nonpartisan (no party affiliation)
U – Undeclared (no party declared)

Less than half a million may not seem like much to most US citizens, but according to the 2008 Census data there are only 502,000 Alaskans of voting age.  This number comes from a 2010 US Census Statistical Abstract Resident Population by Age and State: 2008 [Excel 143k] | [PDF 446k]

I got 503,000 by adding up the totals for the age categories over 18.  But that is a 2008 population and this is 2010.  Can we get more up-to-date data?  Well, the Alaska
Department of Revenue Permanent, Fund Dividend Division's Annual Report, estimates the 2009 population at 692,314.  But their 2008 estimate of 679,720 was actually lower than the Census Bureau's 2008 estimate of 686,000.  The Permanent Fund estimates annual population increases between .7% and 1%  for 2005-2008.  From 2008-2009 they estimate a 1.9% increase in population.  If I increase their 2009 estimate by 1% for 2010, I get 699,237.

from 2009 Permanent Fund Dividend Annual Report

Then if I take the percent of the population over 18 from the Census Bureau 2008 population in the chart (Table 16) above,  about 73% of the population is of voting age.  That comes to 506,000 of the 2008 Census population total, and 519,000 using an estimate based on extrapolating from the Permanent Fund numbers. 

I don't suspect that any sort of Chicago shenanigans, that people were voting in the name of any of these phantom voters. (Though if there were a headline that this did happen, I wouldn't be surprised either.)  Alaskans move about a lot more than the average US citizen.  People come and go.  We have a large military population, some unknown number  of which take on Alaska residency because of the Permanent Fund Dividends.  When I spoke to an elections official last spring, I was told they purge the lists on a regular basis (I remember that it was something like four or five years of not voting to get off the list.)  I remember my son was on the list when I would go to vote for a long time after he was no longer a resident.  Perhaps the state should rethink how often the list is purged.  Or at least study whether our phantom number is significantly greater than in other states.

NOTE TO READERS:  Most of you aren't going to go through all the numbers and the math and are going to just trust me.  That's probably a mistake.  I wouldn't intentionally play with the numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if I made a mistake or two.  My brain is no longer capable of looking at all this and as a blogger I don't have an editor.  And I want to get this out and I have to leave already.  I don't think any possible mistakes will affect my conclusion that we have a lot of people on the voting rolls that aren't Alaskan residents any longer. 


  1. Does a person of voting age have to register to vote to get a PFD or a fishing/hunting license? It could be that to get an in-state fishing/hunting license you have to prove that you're a registered voter? Maybe that explains the high numbers?

    It's been over 20 yrs since I applied for either, so can't remember those hoops I jumped through, and certainly it could have changed in the interim.

  2. Gene and I vote general elections in Alaska as it is our state of residency for passport purposes. Not nearly as active in civic matters from London, but still on the rolls. I would think we are another part of that absent but still voting number you seek.


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