Saturday, January 22, 2011

What factors affect voter turnout?

 It is obvious that there is a decline in public interest for elections in the world. There can be a lot of reasons for this, but three of them go to the fore.




Three Hypotheses on the determinants of voter turnout;
1-      Lack of provision of electoral security decreases the voter turnout.
2-      Noncompulsory voting decreases the voter turnout
3-      Disbelief in the efficiency of voting decreases the voter turnout

1-      Lack of provision of electoral security.
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout. The Taliban demanded that Afghans boycott the presidential elections and instead "free their invaded country" through holy war. Taliban and Mujahideen (holy fighters) threaten Afghan people. People`s life would be under the danger if they go to vote. Taliban said that "They must prevent people from attending the elections and one day before the elections all roads and highways must be totally closed to government and civilian vehicles, and they must inform people," (UNHCR, 2010).  

It is the same case for the Iraqi elections in 2004. Lack of security is keeping Iraqi political parties from doing much campaigning before the elections in 2004. With political rallies and marches almost out of the question for fear of violence, most parties are restricted to using radio, television, and newspaper ads to convince the Iraqi people to vote for them.
2-      Obligatory/compulsory vote or not
In some countries voting is not compulsory. Noncompulsory voting decreases the voter turnout. For instance, under a voluntary system, voter turnout decreased in the Netherlands since it crosses from compulsory voting to noncompulsory voting in 1970. In the last compulsory voting in Netherlands, the voter turnout is 94.95% in 1967 elections, and in the first noncompulsory voting in Netherlands, the voter turnout is 79.08% in 1971 (IDEA, 2010). 
3-      Disbelief in the efficiency of voting
Political efficiency or the feeling that an individual can influence the political process is very important for the voter turnout levels. However, in some countries there is disbelief in the efficiency of voting. Some people still suspend disbelief and lack of efficacy of a single vote will dissuade all Americans from voting.
In this research, the few country studies and the most similar systems design (MSSD) are used to explain and test three hypotheses on the determinants of voter turnout which are lack of provision of electoral security decreases the voter turnout, noncompulsory voting decreases the voter turnout, disbelief in the efficiency of voting decreases the voter turnout. 

However, there are some critical points here which are when the testing of hypotheses, there is lesser in-dept analysis and it patterns that hold across these systems enable us to generalize. 

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