More Frequent Elections and 'Voter Fatigue'



Why Americans should vote less often
The Washington Post


In arguing for a reduction in the number of elections in the United States, the author highlights research by Arend Lijphart and Richard Boyd that demonstrate a negative correlation between the frequency of elections and voter turnout rates.

Two countries with very different political systems and cultures, the United States and Switzerland, nonetheless share two common traits - both have rather frequent elections and both have voter turnout rates that are among the lowest of the advanced democracies.

Lijphart's comprehensive research from 1997 showed that 'the frequency of elections has a strongly negative influence on turnout'. He attributed this effect to 'voter fatigue'.

Similarly, Boyd's research from over 30 years ago showed that the introduction of an extra round of 'primary' voting (to select the major parties' nominees) after 1968 in several northern US states led to an average drop of 10% in turnout at the general election in 1980.


Thumbnail image: Laura Bittner/Flickr

Charles Lane

Washington Post

Published Date
June 10, 2015