Voter turnout

percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election

Voter turnout is the number of votes given when casting a vote. This is usually the number of voters, people who are allowed to vote, or all voting age people. There is an agreement among political scientists that "democracies work better when more people vote."[1]

People in line to vote

Many things make a lot of differences in turnout rates.[2] For example, simpler law-making democracies where voters get shorter ballots, fewer elections, and a multi-party system that makes accountability easier to see more voters than the ways to vote in the United States, Japan, and Switzerland.[2]



Some parts of society are more likely to vote than others. As the number of votes is near 90%, significant differences between voters and nonvoters become less important, but in lower turnout elections the differences between voters and nonvoters can be very big.[3]

More importantly than changes in specific election decisions,[4] voter turnout has very long-term effects on the way democracies work. For example, corruption makes less people vote, not allowing popular democratic changes like fast and safe elections.[5]

Other factors


Other factors have the biggest impact on voter turnout. Making it illegal to not vote has a direct and big effect on turnout while adding barriers, such as a different registration process or unnecessarily scheduling many elections, decreases turnout. In addition, the closer democracies are to 'one person, one vote' makes more people vote because voters see that their vote has an impact. This can be seen in the higher voting rates of proportional law making democracies.


  1. McFaul, Michael (2018-10-11). "Opinion | Want Americans to vote? Give them the day off". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-11-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 McDonald, Michael P.; Popkin, Samuel L. (2001). "The Myth of the Vanishing Voter". The American Political Science Review. 95 (4): 963–974. ISSN 0003-0554.
  3. Hobolt, Sara B.; Franklin, Mark N. (2010-06-16). "Introduction: Electoral democracy in the European Union". Electoral Studies. 30 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2010.09.016. ISSN 0261-3794.
  4. Tremain, Cara Grace (2018-07-13). "Antiquities: What Everyone Needs to Know®. MAXWELL L. ANDERSON. 2017. Oxford University Press, New York. xxi + 250 pp. $16.95 (paperback), ISBN 9780190614935". Latin American Antiquity. 29 (3): 638–639. doi:10.1017/laq.2018.37. ISSN 1045-6635.
  5. Anzia, Sarah F. (2014). Timing and turnout: how off-cycle elections favor organized groups. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-08695-8.