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Why is voter turnout so low?

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Quick Answer

In the United States, low voter turnout rates stem from several factors, including type of election, level of education achieved by voters, age and socioeconomic status. Regardless of cause, voting rates in the U.S. typically fall below the turnout rates in other nations where citizens elect presidents and officials. More Americans vote during presidential elections than other types of elections, but even those numbers are low.

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Why is voter turnout so low?
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Full Answer

Factors such as competitiveness of upcoming elections and demographics play roles in determining voter turnout. Voting rates historically vary widely among states. In a given election year, many factors contribute to the number of state citizens going to the polls. In presidential elections, citizens of less competitive states go to the polls less often than in states where outcome is less certain. Election type also influences voter turnout. Fewer voters across all states turn out for primary elections and local elections. Among demographic factors, age and race influence voter turnout. Younger Americans and certain minorities, including Latin Americans and Asian-Americans, historically cast votes less frequently than older citizens, whites and African-Americans. Historically, women vote more often than men; this statistic reverses with age, however, as older women do not vote as frequently as men of the same age. Lastly, Americans with higher incomes vote in larger numbers than less wealthy citizens.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is low voter turnout a problem?

    A:

    Low voter turnout is a problem because then the elected officials were elected only by a small sampling of a society. The lower the voter turnout, the fewer the people who have cast their votes.

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  • Q:

    What are some voter turnout statistics?

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    Around 60 percent of eligible voters participate in presidential elections, while approximately 40 percent participate in midterm federal elections. OECD countries, which tend to have similar standards of living as the United States, have a slightly higher 70 percent average turnout. Countries with compulsory voting have nearly 90 percent turnout.

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  • Q:

    What kind of information is contained in a voter guide?

    A:

    Voter guides typically contain the candidates for a given office and their biographical information, contact information, and views on a variety of issues of interest to voters, so that a voter can easily compare and contrast the candidates' experience and positions. Voter guides often include photos as well.

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  • Q:

    What are some reasons the United States has low voter turnout?

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    Voter turnout in the United States is a complex situation, but some possible reasons for the low turnout are required registration, the disenfranchisement of felons, and the fact that voting is voluntary instead of mandatory. Other sources cite the two-party system and the formality of the electoral college as reasons.

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