These Countries Have Had the Highest Voter Turnout

The number of votes cast in the United States for this year’s presidential race continues to grow at a staggering pace. As of Thursday, Americans have returned more than 79 million ballots — 13 million more than Tuesday — according to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald’s U.S. Elections Project.

[READ: Early Voting: A 2020 Success Story ]

With just days to go before Election Day, Americans have already returned more than half the 140 million ballots they cast in the 2016 presidential election. Although ballot totals remain to be counted via mail-in, drop off and in-person submissions, the U.S. is on pace to exceed its more recent turnout rates.

Based on data obtained from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, American voters were well behind most members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — a group of 37 nations that collaborate on global economic policy — in their 2016 turnout.

U.S. News ranked international turnout by percentage of Voting Age Population — a measure of turnout specifically among individuals of voting age in their respective country — among OECD countries in their elections from 2015 to 2020. With nearly 56% VAP turnout, Americans appear toward the bottom of the list.

The only OECD members to turn out voters in numbers proportionately smaller than Americans in their most recent elections were Slovenia and Switzerland.

Turkey, Sweden, and Australia appear at the top of the list, with roughly 89%, 82%, and 81% VAP turnout, respectively, in elections they held in 2018 and 2019. Turkey and Australia have compulsory voting — so does Greece, which ranked 13th.

Most European nations exhibited higher VAP participation rates than the U.S., but so did both of its neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico. Canada’s VAP turned out at 62% in its 2015 and 2019 parliamentary elections, while nearly 66% of Mexico’s VAP turned out for presidential elections in 2018.

According to recent IDEA findings, voter turnout took a hit in most countries this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, however, countries that implemented alternative voting methods saw increased participation this year compared to their average turnout from 2008 to 2019.

“A correlation exists between the implementation of scaled-up special voting arrangements (SVA), the political context and the timing of an election held,” IDEA analysts say.

Americans’ embrace of mail-in ballots and early voting this year could boost the country’s standing in the turnout rankings.

IDEA analysts observed a slight increase in turnout in the German state of Bavaria when officials switched entirely to voting by mail as the pandemic took off. While overall turnout in Austria decreased from 2015 to 2020, the number of ballots they submitted by mail increased by 75%.

And in South Korea, VAP turnout swelled to 77.9% — general turnout was the highest it had been in 28 years — despite the novel coronavirus imposing nationwide lockdowns throughout the globe when voters cast their ballots in April. Over a quarter of the nation’s 44 million voters returned their ballots early, according to CNN.

In 2016, the United States had 250 million people in its voting age population. Of those, slightly more than half ended up casting a ballot.

Americans have already returned well over a quarter of those possible 250 million votes in 2016. Voters have cast more than 8.4 million ballots in both Texas and California, and 7.3 million ballots in Florida.

It could be days or even weeks before mail-in ballots are fully counted and can provide an overall sense of how Americans voted this election, according to analysts. But the frenetic pace with which voters are submitting their ballots portends greater turnout than in 2016, despite indications of yet another surge in coronavirus cases.

More from U.S. News

U.S. Elections Compare Poorly to Other Democracies, Research Shows

U.S. Elections Seen as Top Global Risk

Early Voting Hits 74 Million With 6 Days Until the Election

These Countries Have Had the Highest Voter Turnout originally appeared on

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