Richard Freeman

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Fighting Turnout Burnout

In the last two presidential elections, about half of Americans did not vote; many of them said they were too busy or not interested enough. In non-presidential-election years, voter turnout has barely exceeded one-third of voting-age adults.

The American record is especially embarrassing in contrast to nearly every other advanced democracy. In national elections since 1990, 67 percent of the British voting-age population cast ballots, as did 73 percent of Germans, 59 percent of Canadians, 60 percent of the French, and 89 percent of Italians. The 2004 election in Spain, which brought the Socialist Workers Party to power, had a 77-percent electoral turnout.