Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Edward Scott Adler

Second Advisor

Kenneth Bickers

Third Advisor

Leaf Van Boven

Abstract

Voter turnout in the United States is low in comparison to other modern democracies. Turnout also varies significantly from state to state and from year to year. This study seeks to examine why these discrepancies in voter turnout exist on both the aggregate (state) and individual (voter) level. Many recent legislative attempts to reconcile low voter turnout have been unsuccessful. In learning why voter turnout is lower in some years and states compared to others, we might be able to implement relevant policies in order to increase turnout. In order to learn why voter turnout is low, I analyzed two different voter levels using two respective sets of data. I analyzed data from the United States Election Project, which provides aggregate turnout data for each state for the General (both in presidential and non-presidential years) and Primary (presidential years only) elections from 2000-2016. To examine data on an individual level I used the Cooperative Congressional Election Study Data and ran analyses comparing various potentially influential variables with turnout data for the year and state. As a result of completing these analyses, I concluded that there is a small but significant positive correlation between the type of primary election, in particular blanket versus non-blanket election states, and turnout.

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