Why are voter turnout trends on the fall in an average around the world? On analysing the voter turnout trends on Voter Turnout Database, the average turnout comes out in sixties.

  • Are voter turnout trends on the fall in an average around the world? From the Voter Turnout Database link I cannot see it directly. – Trilarion Mar 6 '18 at 8:20
  • @Trilarion I did look up for this information and the OP hypothesis seems correct according to Solijonov (2016). The voter turnout is in fact lowering globally (but not necessarily at regional level). Good question by the way (+1). – armatita Mar 6 '18 at 10:54

In the report Voter Turnout trend around the World (Solijonov, 2016) (for IDEA) the author argues in favor of your hypothesis:

Voter Turnout by region 1945-2015

He does give some pointers as to the main factors that influence Voter Turnout (page 35):

Socio-Economic Factors

  • Population Size
  • Population Stability
  • Economic Development

    Political Factors

  • Closeness of Elections

  • Perception of Political Issues at stake
  • Campaign Expenditures
  • Political Fragmentation

    Institutional Factors

  • Electoral System

  • Compulsory Voting
  • Registration Requirements
  • Voting Arrangements

    Individual Factors

  • Age

  • Education
  • Political Interest
  • Civic Duty

This evidently is not an answer to your question. The main reason is that there might no be a global reason for lower Voter Turnout. He does makes an example to the particular case of Europe and the difference between the established democracies and the post-soviet states:

Voter Turnout difference between Established European Democracies and Post-Soviet states in Europe

But although the difference is clear it's difficult to understand why both are falling. The closest he get's is by quoting Facing Up to the Democratic Recession (Diamond, 2015):

The ever-mounting cost of election campaigns, the surging role of nontransparent money in politics, and low rates of voter participation are additional signs of democratic ill health. Internationally, promoting democracy abroad scores close to the bottom of the public’s foreign-policy priorities.

Although I understand the point of view of the author I do feel his article lacks proper sources to fully support his view. Nevertheless he seems quite critic of US and Europe softening of policies regarding Foreign Policy:

And the international perception is that democracy promotion has already receded as an actual priority of U.S. foreign policy. The world takes note of all this. Authoritarian state media gleefully publicize these travails of American democracy in order to discredit democracy in general and immunize authoritarian rule against U.S. pressure. Even in weak states, autocrats perceive that the pressure is now off: They can pretty much do whatever they want to censor the media, crush the opposition, and perpetuate their rule, and Europe and the Unit- ed States will swallow it. Meek verbal protests may ensue, but the aid will still flow and the dictators will still be welcome at the White House and the Elysée Palace. It is hard to overstate how important the vitality and self-confidence of U.S. democracy has been to the global expansion of democracy during the third wave. While each democratizing country made its own transition, pressure and solidarity from the United State and Europe often generated a significant and even crucial enabling environment that helped to tip finely balanced situations toward democratic change, and then in some cases gradually toward democratic consolidation.

I can't fully subscribe his views without more information but I must admit that it his what comes closest to a global cause for lower voter turnouts.

NOTE: I was born and lived in a country deeply affected by the Eurodebt crisis. I can tell you the major feeling in its citizens was that things would remain bleak no matter what party formed government. Therefore the act of voting became redundant and voter turnout kept falling. This note is an aside and not part of the answer but the lack of perceived control seemed, to me, to be a strong factor in lower voter turnout.

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    Nice collection of data. "Therefore the act of voting became redundant and voter turnout kept falling." That is of course only the feeling of the non-voters. It become redundant in their eyes, but probably wasn't. Also, I'm not sure if this explains the global decline in voter turnout which seems to be a longstanding trend over the last 50 years. My guess is that people are just not interested in political participation anymore than they used to be. – Trilarion Mar 6 '18 at 12:08
  • @Trilarion Yes, that was the major feeling for justifying absence. It does not imply in any way an accurate view of the situation (thus being an aside note). However I cannot consider lack of interest in political participation in itself as an actual reason for anything. If there is less interest than there must be one or more objective reasons for that. People are still people, now and before. – armatita Mar 6 '18 at 12:15
  • I agree that lack of interest isn't a satisfactory explanation. But a lot of things changed in the last 50 years, technology wise but also culturally and socially. It seems to be a long-lasting, global trend, so it cannot be some local peculiarity but something we all shared and that changed slowly. – Trilarion Mar 6 '18 at 12:51
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    @Trilarion True but we did have several world events and discoveries with socio-economic consequences. Besides the average voter changed a lot in the last 50 years (age, gender, literacy, numeracy, etc.). And notice that some regions do have increases in voter turnout, it just happens that on average in the world it seems to be going down. There is a lot of data science to be conducted before any meaningful conclusion can be made. – armatita Mar 6 '18 at 12:58
  • I think you are missing some historical points of view which may show why the trends occurred in such a way over the last 50 years. For example, Europe has increasingly had lower voter turn out, but they started off in the Post WWII years fairly strong. This may be due to the fact that for nearly two decades, the strongest Euro Democracies were in the hands of Authoritarian Dictators. Meanwhile in the Americas, it seems the trend largely spiked around 1976, which would be around the time of Carter, who won a referendum on the Nixon/Ford years. – hszmv Mar 6 '18 at 14:20

Partial answer to a multi-faceted question...

Sometimes in the US voter turnout is intentionally suppressed by influential parties promoting unpopular candidates. The more unpopular a candidate is, the more suppression required to elect them, up to some eventual upper limit of their sponsors' influence.

Extrapolating this globally, one theory that would account for a declining voter turnout would be the world's promoters of unpopular candidates have become increasingly influential and are thus able bring about more voter suppression.

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