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The American Nonvoter$
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Lyn Ragsdale and Jerrold G. Rusk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190670702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190670702.001.0001

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Measuring Nonvoting

Measuring Nonvoting

(p.27) 2 Measuring Nonvoting
The American Nonvoter

Lyn Ragsdale

Jerrold G. Rusk

Oxford University Press

Abstract: This chapter explores the proper measurement of nonvoting in presidential and midterm House elections from 1920 through 2012. It reflects on a long-standing discussion about the supposed increase in nonvoting in American elections. A measure of nonvoting is created using the Reports of the Clerk of the House of Representative for votes cast as the numerator and the voting eligible population excluding non-citizens and felons as the denominator. Employing these data, the chapter shows how nonvoting has moved both up and down within a narrow band over the time frame from 1920 through 2012 both nationally and regionally. Thus, the chapter uncovers that when nonvoting is properly measured and considered across the modern period of elections, there is no inexorable upward trend in nonvoting.

Keywords:   nonvoting trends, measurement, votes cast, eligible population, regions, inter-election change

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