What Are Some Voter Turnout Statistics?


Quick Answer

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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Full Answer

Voter turnout is affected by many factors, including electoral competitiveness, election type, voting laws and demographics, notes the Center for Voting and Democracy. For presidential elections especially, more competitive states tend to enjoy slightly higher voter turnout (66 percent for the 12 most competitive) than less competitive states (57 percent). Turnout is highest in federal and presidential elections and is usually lower in primaries and local elections.

A 2013 study on local elections found that the average turnout was only 25.8 percent. In some cases, particularly restrictive or permissive voting laws can affect turnout rates. For instance, the availability of early voting and convenient polling locations can increase turnout, whereas complicated registration procedures can decrease it. Certain segments of the population are also more likely to vote than others, and election turnout can therefore be affected by the demographic nature of the electorate. In general, older voters have higher turnout rates than younger people. Women usually have higher turnout rates than men. Wealthy citizens vote significantly more often than their less wealthy counterparts.

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