Why Don’t People Vote?: A Quantitative Study and Analysis of Voter Turnout in Mayoral Elections in Large American Cities


Voter turnout is one of the most important keys to a fully functioning representative democracy. Without an actively voting electorate, the American democratic experiment ceases to function properly. As such, voter turnout is of paramount importance in understanding the health of American democracy and the institutional and demographic hurdles that stand in its way. Most research on voter turnout as a general concept in American democracy is focused on the national and state levels, but municipal governments arguably have a greater impact on the day-to-day lives of the citizenry. Four questions were examined by the study. These questions revolved around why turnout in mayoral elections is so low, what factors are most important is helping dictate how high municipal voter turnout is, and how these factors may help explain differences in turnout between cities with different levels of turnout. The analysis found that, at least in the largest American cities, turnout in mayoral elections is largely contingent on when elections are held, how important the highest office on the ballot is, and how competitive the electoral contest is.


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