Voter Turnout 101

Voter turnout in the United States fluctuates in national elections. In recent elections, about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections. Turnout is lower for odd year, primary and local elections. 2018 turnout was the highest midterm turnout on record at 49.6% with more votes still to count. 

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Voter turnout also varies considerably from state to state. In 2016, smaller, less urbanized states in the northern part of the country tended to have higher voter turnout than other states. The same pattern presented in the 2014 presidential election, with small states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire having the highest voter turnout. 

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Turnout also varies much within states. For example, in California in 2014, voter turnout ranged from 22.6% in Imperial County in Southern California to 65.0% in Sierra County up in northern California. 

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By international standards, voter turnout is a little low. In countries with compulsory voting, like Australia, Belgium, and Chile, voter turnout hovered near 90% in the 2000s. Other countries, like Austria, Sweden, and Italy, experienced turnout rates near 80%. Overall, OECD countries experience turnout rates of about 70%. 

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