CORRECTION (Feb. 26, 2020): An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the U.S.-born eligible voter population in 2020, as well as its growth rate from 2000. This population grew by 18%, from 181 million in 2000 to 215 million in 2020. More than 23 million U.S. immigrants will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, making up roughly 10% of the nation’s overall electorate – both record highs, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on Census Bureau data.
By Abby Budiman, Luis Noe-Bustamante, Mark Hugo Lopez
The number of immigrant eligible voters has increased steadily over the past 20 years, up 93% since 2000. By comparison, the U.S.-born eligible voter population grew more slowly (by 18%) over the same period, from 181 million in 2000 to 215 million in 2020. 1 (Immigrant eligible voters are those ages 18 and older born outside the United States who have gained U.S. citizenship through naturalization.)
The nation’s immigrant voters have diverse backgrounds. Most immigrant eligible voters are either Hispanic or Asian, though they hail from countries across the globe. Immigrants from Mexico make up the single largest group, at 16% of foreign-born voters. More than half of all U.S. immigrants (56%) live in the country’s four most populous states: California, New York, Texas and Florida. Two-thirds have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years and 63% are proficient in English.
Growth in the foreign-born eligible voter population reflects two broad U.S. population trends. First, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has increased steadily since 1965, when the Immigration and Nationality Act became law. Then, the nation’s 9.6 million immigrants made up just 5% of the population. Today, 45 million immigrants live in the country, accounting for about 13.9% of the population. Most are either from Latin America or Asia.