Sociogeographic Voter Turnout Disparities and Public Health in Kansas City, Missouri
Politics should be included in the academic and community discussion of spatial disparity. Poverty, healthcare, and access to transportation are frequent metrics when comparing geographic social advantage, but politics is almost always absent. Is it possible that political participation has an effect on the socioeconomic status or wellbeing of a community? Using voter turnout data from the Kansas City Election Board in all 37 elections in Kansas City, Missouri since 2000 and Census data, we can determine there is a statistically significant relationship between geography and voter turnout. Geographic variation in voter turnout can be reliably predicted using socioeconomic status – income, poverty, race, and disability. Furthermore, using Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services zip-code level mortality data, we can calculate life expectancy. We can then tentatively make the claim that voter turnout has a statistically significant lagged relationship with life expectancy. This can imply that voting results in long-term health benefits for a community.