Estimated Voting-Age Turnout

South Dakota Ranks Last in Region for Voting-Age Turnout

While the South Dakota Secretary State collects voter participation data for the state’s registered voters, the office does not collect demographic information such as age, gender, race, etc. However, the United States Election Project and the U.S. Census Bureau estimate these measures by comparing the total number of votes cast to various Census population estimates on age, race, gender, and others. As a result, all voting-age turnout indicators are based on Census estimates and include individuals over the age of 18 as well as immigrants without citizenship status, the prison population, and other individuals who are ineligible to vote.

In 2016, South Dakotans of voting-age voted at a slightly higher rate than the nation did as a whole, at 58.1 versus 55.7%, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Rushmore State placed 27th in the nation for voting-age turnout behind No. 1 Minnesota and ahead of No. 50 Hawaii. Regionally, South Dakota experienced the lowest voting-age turnout, with Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming all having a greater turnout of voting-age residents. Regional voting-age turnout in 2016 can be viewed in the table below:

State Voting-Age Turnout Percentage Rank
Minnesota 69.6 1
Iowa 65.1 5
Montana 61.0 12
North Dakota 59.2 19
Nebraska 58.9 20
Wyoming 57.3 24
South Dakota 56.7 27


Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that just 35.0% of American Indians of voting age in South Dakota participated in the 2016 election, compared to 61.9% of white South Dakotans. Participation of both groups has declined since since a peak in 2004, when 45.3% of the voting-age American Indian and 69.9% of the voting-age white populations cast ballots.


Seniors in South Dakota are more likely to vote than their younger counterparts. In 2016, 74.7% of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 cast ballots while 72.7% of individuals over the age of 75 cast ballots. The youngest portion of the voting age population—individuals between the ages of 18 and 24—had the lowest participation rate in 2016 at just 31.6%.

Women vs. Men

Generally, South Dakotan women have tended to vote more often than their male counterparts. The widest margin was seen in 2008, when 72.4% of voting-age women cast ballots compared to 63.1% of men. The  margin between men and women of voting age who cast ballots narrowed in 2012 to just 62.0% of voting age women participating in the election versus 59.9% of men. While the narrow margin remained in the 2014 election, it once again broadened in 2016 to 61.7% of voting-age women casting ballots versus 56.6% of men.

Educational Attainment

Individuals with bachelor’s degrees cast the highest percentage of votes in South Dakota in 2016 at 77.8% . Those with less than a high school diploma cast the lowest percentage at 36.9%.


In general, individuals with higher income levels tended to vote at higher rates than individuals with lower incomes. In 2016, 42.4% of voting-age individuals with an annual family income of less than $20,000 cast ballots compared to 77.0% of voting-age individuals making $100,000 annually.


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