This accessible textbook provides a comprehensive introduction and guide to theories of voting and electoral behaviour. By carefully presenting and explaining the major technical and methodological advances made in voting studies, the text serves to provide a complete review of the different approaches and techniques that have characterized this area of study from its origins to the present day. The book includes separate chapters on abstention and electoral competition, and employs a range of empirical examples from a number of countries. It concludes by looking at how voting studies might evolve in the future.

Non-Voting and Abstention

Non-voting and abstention

Summary Box

  • Voting and not voting
  • Voter registration
  • Micro-explanations of turnout: sociodemographics
  • Macro-explanations of turnout: country and institutional context
  • The micro-macro interaction
  • Raising turnout and solutions to abstention.


The previous chapters in this book have all asked ‘Why do people vote the way they do?’ A number of competing theories have offered social and attitudinal reasons to explain the vote outcome. However, in asking this question, we have already implied a separate question, namely, ‘Why do people vote?’ That is, a social structural or an issue-based theory helps to explain in which box a voter places their tick on the ballot sheet, but neither of them necessarily explains why the voter turned up in the first place. Both assume that the motivations of how someone votes will ...

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