Valley district among the nation's worst for voter turnout also one of the tightest races

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Your vote is your voice in the American political system.

"Your vote means education," said Centro La Familia Executive Director Margarita Rocha. "Your vote means a safer community. Your vote means better roads. Your vote means better street lights. Your vote means food on your table."

But at least one Central Valley Congressional district is practically silent and it was one of the closest Congressional races in the entire country in 2018.

Get out to vote campaigns struggled to get off the ground this year, but as Election Day draws near, they're ramping up.

RELATED: Election 2020: Here's how to register to vote

"Because of COVID in March, we have not been registering as much," said Fresno County GOP Chairman Fred Vanderhoof. "I don't think any party has been doing as much. But now we're, the last couple months, we're starting to do more and more activity."

Presidential elections typically draw more voter interest, according to the Maddy Institute's executive director, Mark Keppler.

But the 2018 midterm elections saw 53% voter turnout, the most in a midterm since 1970.

"Voting is a habit," Keppler said. "Once you vote, it's more likely you'll vote again. So the question is 'Has that habit taken hold with those voters that traditionally don't vote?'"

We're about to find out, but the higher-than-usual turnout wasn't universal.

Our ABC Owned Television Stations data journalism team analyzed voting data from all 435 Congressional districts.

We found 52 districts where less than 40% of eligible voters registered and cast ballots, including 10 in California.

California's 21st congressional district, mostly in the western Central Valley, is one of the five lowest voting districts in the entire country with just 32.5% of eligible voters casting ballots in the 2018 election.

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"Younger, less educated, poorer folks don't vote in the same propensity level as older, more educated, higher income voters," Keppler said.

About a quarter of eligible voters in the 21st District live below the poverty line.

Five out of every six are racial or ethnic minorities.

Community leaders say they try to convince people how important voting can be for them and their children, but not everyone can see the big picture.

"Sometimes when we're busy in our work lives and our family lives, that type of thing, it doesn't resonate with us that that's critical," said Centro La Familia's Rocha.

She says the political system looks very complex, and sometimes people are cynical about whether their vote even matters.

But in the 21st District, T.J. Cox beat David Valadao by 862 ballots in 2018, less than 1% of the vote.

They're squaring off again in 2020 and voter turnout could make all the difference.

For everything you need to know about all the California propositions, check out our 2020 Voter Guide.
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