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Electoral Participation: How to Measure Voter Turnout?


  • Daniel Stockemer

    () (University of Ottawa)


In the comparative turnout literature, there are two ways of measuring voter turnout: (1) voter turnout as the percentage of registered voters that actually turn out (RV turnout) and (2) voter turnout as the percentage of a country’s voting age population that cast their ballot on Election Day (VAP turnout). Both measurements are imprecise, the former overestimates turnout, the latter either underestimates or overestimates turnout. In this article, I introduce a more accurate calculation of macro-level electoral participation into the comparative turnout literature, the percentage of eligible voters or VEP turnout. To do so, I first calculate VEP turnout and add it to a dataset on electoral turnout that covers more than 500 elections conducted in democracies from 1990 to 2012. Second, I use a standard turnout model and highlight that the constituents of turnout somewhat differ across RV turnout, VAP turnout, and VEP turnout.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Stockemer, 2017. "Electoral Participation: How to Measure Voter Turnout?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(3), pages 943-962, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1410-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-016-1410-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

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