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FILE - This April 24, 2012 file photo shows a sign at the entrance of a polling station in East Greenwich, R.I., advises voters that identification is required. President Barack Obama's campaign is recruiting legions of lawyers to handle disputes that may arise from now through Election Day. Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Low US voter turnout is especially sad when you compare it to the rest of the world


Low US voter turnout is especially sad when you compare it to the rest of the world

WATCH  | If history if a guide, voter turnout on November 8 will be depressingly low -- at least compared to the rest of the world. 

How America compares

In the 2012 presidential election, eligible voter turnout was 53.6 percent.  Among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's member countries --  all democracies with free markets --  the United States ranks 31st out of 35, according to the Pew Research Center.

Globally, 73 countries have better voter turnout than the United States. However, electoral data in several of these countries is questionable, and others enforce compulsory voting which can significantly boost turnout. 


Compulsory voting

In many countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, voting is mandatory. Not every country enforces these laws, but some levy a small fine on those who don't do their civic duty. 

We are the only advanced democracy that makes it deliberately difficult for people to vote.
President Obama

Weekend voting 

For more than a century, Americans vote on the first Tuesday of November. Many other nations schedule their election day on the weekend to make it easier to participate. There's talk of making election day a national holiday -- even President Obama has endorsed the idea.

Automatic voter registration

U.S. citizens are responsible for registering themselves to vote. But in many other countries, the government takes care of that for them. France, for example,  signs its citizens up to vote when they turn 18.

Some U.S. states have adopted automatic voter registration. Vermont, Oregon, California, Connecticut and West Virginia have implemented it, and another 28 states have considered doing so. 

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