Lijphart, Arend (1998) The Problem of Low and Unequal Voter Turnout - and What We Can Do About It. IHS Political Science Series No. 54, February 1998. [Working Paper]
Low voter turnout has become a serious problem in most democracies, not only in the United States but also in many West European countries – and even in a traditionally high-turnout country like Austria where turnout has also been declining in recent years. There are five reasons why we should be concerned about this problem: 1. Low turnout means low participation by less privileged citizens, who are already at a disadvantage in terms of other forms of political participation. 2. Unequal participation means unequal influence. 3. Actual turnout tends to be lower than the official turnout figures suggest. 4. Turnout in elections other than those at the national level tends to be particularly low. 5. Turnout is declining in most countries. The problem of low and unequal turnout can be solved by a number of institutional mechanisms such as proportional representation, concurrent and infrequent elections, weekend instead of weekday voting, and compulsory voting. The last of these – mandatory voting – is especially strong and effective, and also morally justified.
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