Voting and Non-voting

Review the following charts and answer the questions at the bottom of the page:

International Voter Turnout, 1991-2000

International voter turnout per year
Country 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Average System
Argentina 89%
78%
80%

78%

81% PR
Australia

83%

82%



83% PR***
Austria 80%

76% 79%




78% PR
Belgium 85%


83%




84% PR
Bolivia

50%


62%


56% Mixed**
Brazil


77%





77% PR
Canada

64%


56%


60% District#
Chile

82%






82% PR
Colombia 26%

29%


40%

32% PR
Denmark


82%


83%

83% PR
Domican Republic


31%
62%



47% PR
Ecuador


66%
68%
48%

61% PR
Finland 71%


71%




71% PR
France

61%


60%


61% District$
Germany


72%





72% PR*
Greece

86%

84%



85% PR
Guatemala


14% 33%




24% PR
Iceland 89%


88%




89% PR
Ireland
74%



67%


71% PR***
Italy
92%
91%
87%



90% Mixed**
Luxembourg


60%





60% PR
Mexico 50%

66%

54%

60% 58% Mixed**
Netherlands


75%





75% PR
Norway

74%


77%


76% PR
Peru



58%




58% PR
Portugal 78%


79%




79% PR
Spain

77%

81%



79% PR
Sweden 83%

84%





84% PR
Switzerland 40%


36%




38% PR
Thailand
58%

64% 65%



62% District&
Turkey 80%


79%




80% PR
United Kingdom
75%



69%


72% District#
United States
55%
39%
49%
35%
47% 45% District#
Venezuela

50%






50% Mixed**













Data is based on Voting Age Population (VAP)







Blank spaces indicate missing data or no elections held that year






























* 50% by single-seat, plurality election








** 75% by single-seat, plurality election








*** Choice Voting











# Single-seat districts, elected by plurality







$ Single-seat districts, with majority provision







& Multi-seat districts, elected by plurality








~ Indicates compulsory voting









Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Here are some facts about Americans:

US Percentage unable to identify
Party with the most members in Senate 38
Name of Vice President 40
Name of Speaker of the House 47
Both senators from their state 54
Chief justice of the United States 94

Top reasons people did not vote in the 2004 election
Too busy/conflicting schedule 19.9%
Illness or disability 15.4%
Other reason 10.9%
Not interested 10.7%
Did not like candidates or issues 9.9%
Out of town 9.0%
Don't know or refused 8.5%
Registration problems 6.8%
Forgot to vote 3.4%
Inconvenient polling place 3.0%
Transportation problems 2.1%
Bad weather conditions 0.5%


“I don’t believe in making it easy for apathetic, lazy people to vote.” -Senator Sam Ervin

  1. How does the US compare to the rest of the world in voter turnout?
  2. Why do you think that is?
  3. Is there a relationship between wealth and voting?
  4. Do you want the Americans above who know little about US politics, voting?
  5. Do you want the non-voters listed in the chart above, voting?
  6. Is non-voting a kind of approval?
  7. Would the US be better off if more people voted?
  8. What would happen if voter turnout rates significantly went up in the US?
  9. Should we make voting and registration easier?
  10. Why don’t we have automatic voter registration?
  11. Should we vote on the weekends or make voting day a national holiday?
  12. Who would benefit?
  13. Who would not benefit?
  14. Who benefits from low voter turnout?
  15. What is the effect of voter apathy on PAC power?
  16. Activists have more political power than apathetic people–is that bad?
  17. Do politicians want voter turnout to increase?
  18. What happens when voter turnout increases?

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