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Voter Turnout Database

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IDEA Voter Turnout Database

Summary Advice: The International IDEA Voter Turnout Website contains the most comprehensive global collection of political participation statistics available.

Main Points: The Voter Turnout Database contains a wide array of statistics regarding voter turnout all over the world. The database is continuously updated by International IDEA. 

The Global Voter Turnout Survey is based on the International IDEA publications Voter Turnout in Western Europe since 1945 (2004) and Voter Turnout since 1945 (2002). This section examines the trend in voter turnout since 1945 and provides an analysis of differences in voter turnout related to geographical areas, electoral systems, literacy, human development and much more. Please note that the Global Voter Turnout Survey section is not updated continuously and that the analyses refers to data from 1945-1999.


The following sources have been used for gathering voter turnout data as well as updating them regularly:

Primary sources

·        National Electoral Management Bodies

·        National Statistics Bureaus

Additional sources

·        IFES Election Guide

·        IPU PARLINE Database

·        African Elections Database

·        Adam Carr's Election Archive

·        OSCE

·        UN Demographic Yearbook

·        U.S. Census Bureau

·        CIA World Factbook

·        Eurostat

·        European Parliament

The Voting Age Population (VAP), as well as the number of Registered Voters (REG) are used as indicators of political participation. The VAP figure includes an estimated number of all those citizens over the legal voting age, while the registration rate comprises the actual number of people on the voters’ roll.

The criteria for including an election in the database are the following:

·        That the election was held after 1945.

·        That the election is for national political office in independent nation states, with the exception of those nations which held elections on the eve of their independence from colonial rule (such as Nigeria in 1959), those small island nations whose sovereignty is limited by "free association" with a larger power (such as Aruba) or elections to the EU parliament.

·        That there was a degree of competitiveness (that is, more than one party contested the elections, or one party and independents contested the elections, or the election was only contested by independent candidates). This criterion excluded the one-party states of North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union, but led to the inclusion of elections, such as, Uganda 1995 (where parties were banned) and Egypt 1976 where a number of independent candidates ran against the ruling party. Within the grey area of competitiveness we have erred on the side of inclusion and, at least where the data is available, have included the turnout figures and explanatory variables in the tables for each country.

·        That the franchise was universal. However, for the purposes of comparison we have included elections in Liechtenstein (pre-1986), Switzerland (pre-1971), Greece (pre-1956), Belgium (1948), Kuwait (1992-1996), Bahrain (1973) and Argentina (1947) which excluded women from voting. In these cases, the voting age population figure only includes men. We have not included elections where the franchise was limited to a very small (and ethnically defined) segment of the population, e.g., South Africa (before 1994), Western Samoa (before 1991).

·        The Voter Turnout database has been expanded of the data from the European Parliament elections that have been of an increasing importance in Europe. The EP elections are not only a hotly debated problem in European media but also quite a challenging issue for their general low voter turnout. We are entirely aware of the fact that the EP elections differ from the concept of the particular country elections that we have solely focused on so far but we believe this data is of a high relevance to our database.

Access to database:

Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), 2013

Page Created By:  Madina Junussova. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

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