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U.S. voter turnout on presidential elections

This statistic presents the voter turnout in the U.S. presidential elections from 1908 to 2012. Voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections in 1908 stood at 65.4 percent.

Additional information on voter turnout in the United States presidential elections

Despite widespread societal and economic changes voter turnout has generally fluctuated between 50 and 60 percent. Turnouts above 60 percent are rare and have not been witnessed since the middle of the 20th Century when American voter turnout was comparably higher. In the United States voting in presidential elections is not legally mandatory as it is in some countries such as Australia. Therefore, many American voters choose to remain absent from the ballot box every four years.

In contrast to mid-term elections, years in which the bi-annual congressional elections take place in the absence of presidential campaigns, presidential elections enjoy a relatively larger degree of public attention. This difference could be seen to reflect a population who perceives the power of the president to be of greater influence than the country’s congressional house. This perception is particularly apparent among the millennial population of the United States. Although many millennials harbor a substantial level of mistrust toward many major political and civil institutions, the role of president is seen as relatively more trustworthy. This trend may however be subject to change following the departure of President Obama who proved himself popular among the millennial population in successive campaign victories.

Voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections since 1908

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Release date

January 2013


United States

Survey time period

1908 to 2012

Age group

18 years and older

Supplementary notes

Total REG data is incomplete or unavailable in some states, making it appear in some years as though more people voted than were registered to vote. From 1976 through 2004, this is due to the fact that North Dakota does not have voter registration, and in Wisconsin eligible voters may register to vote at the polls. The data from the above statistic comes from the following publications: (1824-1956) – Lyn Ragsdale, Vital Statistics on the Presidency (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1998), p.132-38. The values from 1960 were compiled by Gerhard Peters from data obtained from the Federal Election Commission.

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Statistics on "2012 U.S. election part II voter and candidate"

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