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Issued September 4, 2018


Embargo Date/Time:  Wednesday September 5, 2018 / 4:00pm




The new nonprofit, nonpartisan, think tank WiiSE (Women’s Institute for Independent Social Enquiry) will release its first publication Missing Voters Project: United States 2016, an original 17-page research report providing detailed characteristics of the 86.5 million voting age American citizens who did not vote in the November 2016 elections, on Wednesday September 5, 2018.




The Women's Institute for Independent Social Enquiry (WiiSE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, progressive think tank whose mission is to foster a just society through independent social science, humanities, arts, and public policy research. We believe that rigorous evidence-based research, when effectively translated for a broad spectrum of audiences, can be a catalyst for transformational social change. We champion the ideas of women by cultivating and supporting women scholars and leaders.




Elizabeth Pathak, PhD is the President and Chair of the Board of WiiSE.

Janelle Menard, PhD is the Vice-President of WiiSE.

Beverly Ward, PhD is a member of the Board of Directors of WiiSE.

Ellie Margolis, JD is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of WiiSE. 


Press Release:


In November 2016, 86.5 million voting age citizens were missing from the election day polls. Missing voters were of all ages and races, of all educational backgrounds, and they lived in every state across the nation.


These 86.5 million missing voters included:


► 53.6 million non-Hispanic white citizens

► 34.7 million adults residing in rental housing

► 33.7 million adults who were not in the labor force

► 31.7 million adults with only a high school diploma

► 31.6 million working-age adults (25 to 44 years old)

► 25.8 million unmarried women

► 25.8 million unmarried men

► 15.4 million young adults (18 to 24 years old)

► 14.0 million Hispanic citizens

► 12.5 million Black citizens

► 5.6 million Asian citizens


“The data analyzed in the Missing Voters Project are from the largest study of voting participation in the United States. Our results are based on interviews with over 90,000 voting age adults in every state in the nation, conducted right after the November 2016 elections. Keep in mind that the estimates do not include people who were institutionalized (e.g. in nursing homes or prisons), and they only include U.S. citizens old enough to vote,” said lead author and WiiSE President Dr. Elizabeth Pathak.


“What surprised me the most were the very low rates of voting participation among certain population groups,” commented WiiSE Vice President Dr. Janelle Menard. “Only 43.0% of young adults, 47.6% of Hispanic citizens, and 49.8% of Asian citizens voted in 2016.”


“The most disturbing findings in our report are the extreme variations in voting participation by socioeconomic position,” said Pathak. “Citizens with a college degree were twice as likely to vote than citizens who had not graduated from high school, 76.3% vs. 34.3%. And when we looked at family income, the socioeconomic disparity was just as high – 80.3% of citizens with family incomes of $150,000/year or more voted, compared with only 41.4% of the poorest citizens, those with family incomes under $10,000/year. Finally, only half of citizens who were unemployed voted in 2016.”


As expected, the largest numbers of missing voters resided in the biggest states. California had 10.5 million missing voters, Texas had 7.8 million, New York had 5.9 million, Florida had 5.9 million, and Pennsylvania had 3.6 million.


“When we look at the state map of the percent of citizens who were missing voters, some interesting patterns emerge,” remarked Pathak. “Maine and West Virginia are both rural states, with predominantly non-Hispanic white populations who have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Yet Maine had one of the lowest rates of missing voters, 27.4%, while West Virginia’s rate of 49.3% was one of the highest.”


“Over the next 2 months, we plan to release additional Missing Voters Project national reports on women, young adults, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, as well as individual state reports,” said Menard. “We’ve also compiled a great list of resources and links for grassroots groups who want to find and help the missing voters in their own communities. Everything on our website is free – check out”

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