Here's an interesting article examining electoral turnout in the USA. According to the Centre for the Study of the American Electorate, America is ranked 139th in terms of voter participation out of 172 recognised democracies, and turnout in the 2008 election at 63% was considerably lower than it is in much of Europe, for example. Indeed, 2008's turnout was higher than it had been since 1960, with only 51.6% turning out for the 1996 elections. Some believe this is because of America's insistence on continuing with traditions such as the Tuesday date for elections (believed to have been chosen as it was most convenient for the agricultural community) and its refusal to embrace newer technologies to make voting more convenient, although this could be expensive. Jacob Soboroff from the "Why Tuesday?" Campaign responded to criticisms by saying,
"There is a far higher cost to the nation of having perennially low turnout than the monetary cost of having weekend elections." Does he have a point?
PS: More on the Tuesday issue here.