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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Within the past seventy years, citizens have cast some twenty-seven billion votes in national elections across the world. This impressive figure would likely double if votes cast in local elections and referenda were included. Electoral participation is a mass phenomenon. However, what exactly motivates people to vote? The question of why people vote has been at the center of positivist political theory. Political scientists and economists have devised numerous theories for why people may or may not vote, in addition to gathering an impressive amount of empirical evidence on the determinants of electoral participation. This chapter offers a bird’s-eye view of historical trends in voter turnout, theories of rational voting motivation, and the role of embedding political or socioeconomic environments, as exposed by empirical research.

Keywords: turnout trends, formal theories, decision-theoretic models, game-theoretic models, empirical determinants

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