The past several decades have witnessed a general decline in voter turnout throughout the world, and, while there is little agreement as to what specifically constitutes a good level of turnout, recent declines in many countries have raised concern among governments, non-governmental organizations, and citizens.

There is an enormous range of activity worldwide on which to draw for case studies and examples that illustrate effective practice as well as imaginative initiatives, including information and advertising campaigns, grass-roots movements, mock elections and other special-purpose programmes.

This report examines efforts made around the world to stem or reverse the decline in voter turnout, and to attempt to maximize turnout at electoral events of all types, including elections, referendums and citizens’ initiatives.


Publication date
13 October 2006
Andrew Ellis, Maria Gratschew, Jon H. Pammett, Erin Thiessen
Number of pages
91-85391-91-3 (Print)

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Acronyms and Abbreviations

I. Introduction

The Structure of This Book
1. Theories of Democracy
2. Why Voter Turnout Varies
3. The Issue of Young Voters
4. Practical Concerns for Government

II. Initiatives and Activities

1. Information Campaigns (‘how’)
2. Advertising Campaigns (‘why’)
3. Grass-roots Movements
4. School/Mock Elections and Other Special-purpose Educational Programmes
5. Entertainment
6. Inducements

III. Case Studies

1. Information Campaigns
Making the Electoral Process as Easy as Possible: Elections New Zealand
Educating the Voter about the Electoral Process: The Swedish Election Authority
Making Democracy Accessible for Everyone: The National Office of Electoral Processes, Peru

2. Advertising Campaigns
Convincing Voters that Their Vote is Important: The Association Civisme Démocratie (CIDEM) in Franc
Making Politics Relevant: The Electoral Commission, United Kingdom

3. Grass-roots Movements
Identifying and Engaging the Under-represented: The Minnesota Participation Project in the USA
Teaching Citizens to Protect Their Democratic Rights: Pora in Ukraine and Similar Organizations in Central and Eastern Europe

4. School/Mock Elections and Other Special-purpose Educational Programmes
Educating Young People Through Participation in the Voting Process: Student Vote in Canada
Informing Young People of the Need for Conscientious Voting: Eleitor do Futuro (Voter of the Future) in Brazil

5. Entertainment
Teaching Political Participation Through Theatre: The Réseau de communication d’information et de formation des femmes dans les organisations non-gouvernementaux (RECIF/ONG) in Burkina Faso
Rock Volieb and the 1998 Parliamentary Elections in Slovakia: Rocking the Vote Slovak Style

6. Inducements
The 1995 Municipal Elections Lottery in Norway
The 2005 Parliamentary Election Lottery in Bulgaria

IV. Conclusions

References and Further Reading


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Engaging the Electorate: Initiatives to Promote Voter Turnout From Around the World

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