The Statistics of Elections in Different Societies Around the Globe
By Saeed Mirshekari

July 5, 2024

The Statistics of Elections in Different Societies Around the Globe

Elections are fundamental to democratic governance, providing a mechanism for citizens to select their leaders and influence policies. While the principles of free and fair elections are universal, the statistics of how elections unfold can vary significantly across different societies. This article explores the statistical landscape of elections globally, highlighting voter turnout, electoral systems, representation, and other key metrics that define electoral processes in various countries.

Voter Turnout

Voter turnout is a crucial indicator of democratic engagement. It reflects the percentage of eligible voters who cast their ballots in an election. Turnout rates can vary widely across countries and are influenced by factors such as compulsory voting laws, voter registration processes, and political culture.

High Turnout Countries

  • Belgium: Known for its high voter turnout, Belgium often sees over 85% of eligible voters participating in elections. This is largely due to compulsory voting laws, which mandate that eligible citizens vote or face penalties.
  • Australia: Another country with compulsory voting, Australia boasts turnout rates of around 90%. The country’s preferential voting system and strong civic education also contribute to high engagement levels.
  • Sweden: With turnout rates often exceeding 80%, Sweden’s high participation can be attributed to a proportional representation system, robust voter education, and a strong tradition of civic engagement.

Low Turnout Countries

  • United States: Despite being one of the world's oldest democracies, the U.S. often experiences relatively low voter turnout, typically around 55-60% in presidential elections. Factors such as voter registration hurdles, the electoral college system, and voter apathy contribute to this.
  • Switzerland: With turnout rates frequently below 50%, Switzerland's unique system of direct democracy, where citizens vote on numerous referendums and initiatives, may lead to voter fatigue and lower participation in federal elections.

Electoral Systems

The electoral system used in a country significantly impacts election outcomes and representation. The major types of electoral systems include first-past-the-post (FPTP), proportional representation (PR), and mixed electoral systems.

First-Past-The-Post (FPTP)

  • United Kingdom: The UK employs a FPTP system for its parliamentary elections. This system tends to favor larger parties and can lead to significant discrepancies between the percentage of votes received and the number of seats won. For example, in the 2019 general election, the Conservative Party won 43.6% of the vote but secured 56.2% of the seats.
  • India: As the world's largest democracy, India also uses FPTP for its Lok Sabha (House of the People) elections. This system often results in a single party or coalition gaining a decisive majority, even with a minority of the popular vote.

Proportional Representation (PR)

  • Germany: Germany utilizes a mixed-member proportional representation system, combining FPTP and PR. This system ensures a more accurate reflection of voter preferences in the Bundestag. In the 2021 federal election, the Social Democratic Party won 25.7% of the vote and received 25.7% of the seats.
  • South Africa: Using a pure proportional representation system, South Africa's elections ensure that the percentage of votes a party receives is directly reflected in the number of seats they occupy in the National Assembly. This system promotes inclusivity and representation of smaller parties.

Mixed Electoral Systems

  • Japan: Japan employs a mixed electoral system for its House of Representatives, combining single-member districts with proportional representation. This hybrid approach aims to balance the benefits of both systems, providing local representation while ensuring proportionality at the national level.
  • New Zealand: New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional (MMP) system allows voters to cast two votes—one for a political party and one for a local representative. This system has led to more diverse and representative parliaments since its adoption in 1996.

Representation and Gender Parity

Gender parity in political representation is a critical measure of an inclusive democracy. Various countries have adopted different approaches to enhance gender equality in their legislatures.

Countries with High Gender Parity

  • Rwanda: Rwanda leads the world in gender representation, with women holding over 60% of seats in the lower house of parliament. This is the result of constitutional mandates and proactive policies promoting women's participation in politics.
  • Sweden: With a strong commitment to gender equality, Sweden has nearly equal representation of women and men in its parliament, with women holding around 47% of seats. Political parties in Sweden have voluntarily adopted gender quotas, ensuring balanced candidate lists.

Countries with Low Gender Parity

  • Japan: Despite being a developed nation, Japan struggles with gender parity in politics. Women hold only about 10% of seats in the House of Representatives. Cultural norms and structural barriers contribute to this low level of representation.
  • Nigeria: In Nigeria, women hold less than 7% of seats in the National Assembly. Efforts to improve gender representation face significant challenges, including socio-cultural norms and political violence.

Youth Participation

Youth participation is another critical aspect of democratic engagement. The involvement of young voters can significantly shape electoral outcomes and future policies.

High Youth Participation

  • Indonesia: With a median age of 30, Indonesia has a large youth population actively engaged in politics. In the 2019 presidential election, youth voter turnout was high, influenced by social media campaigns and issues relevant to younger generations, such as education and employment.
  • Kenya: Young voters in Kenya make up a significant portion of the electorate. Efforts to engage youth through digital platforms and targeted outreach programs have boosted their participation rates in recent elections.

Low Youth Participation

  • United States: Historically, the U.S. has seen lower turnout rates among young voters compared to older demographics. Although there was an increase in youth turnout in the 2020 election, it still lagged behind other age groups. Barriers such as voter ID laws and lack of civic education contribute to this trend.
  • Russia: In Russia, youth participation in elections has been relatively low. Political apathy, skepticism towards the electoral process, and perceived lack of genuine political alternatives are key factors contributing to this disengagement.

Electoral Integrity

The integrity of electoral processes is essential for the legitimacy of any democracy. Different countries face various challenges in ensuring free and fair elections.

High Electoral Integrity

  • Norway: Norway consistently ranks high on electoral integrity indices. The country’s transparent electoral processes, strong legal frameworks, and high levels of public trust in electoral institutions contribute to its exemplary standing.
  • Canada: Canada also enjoys high electoral integrity, with robust mechanisms to prevent fraud and ensure transparency. The independent management of elections by Elections Canada is a model of non-partisan electoral administration.

Low Electoral Integrity

  • Zimbabwe: Elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by allegations of fraud, voter intimidation, and violence. The 2018 presidential election faced significant scrutiny from international observers who highlighted numerous irregularities.
  • Venezuela: Venezuela’s electoral integrity has been severely compromised in recent years. Allegations of vote rigging, government control over electoral bodies, and the suppression of opposition candidates have undermined the legitimacy of its elections.

Technology and Elections

The use of technology in elections is a double-edged sword, offering both opportunities for enhanced participation and risks of cyber interference.

Positive Impact of Technology

  • Estonia: Estonia is a pioneer in internet voting, having implemented e-voting in 2005. This innovation has made voting more accessible and efficient, with about 44% of votes cast online in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
  • India: India has successfully implemented electronic voting machines (EVMs) across its vast and diverse electorate. EVMs have streamlined the voting process, reduced counting times, and helped minimize fraud.

Challenges and Risks

  • United States: The U.S. has faced challenges with election security, particularly concerning the potential for cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns. The 2016 and 2020 elections highlighted vulnerabilities in the electoral infrastructure, prompting significant investment in cybersecurity measures.
  • Kenya: In Kenya, the introduction of biometric voter registration and electronic transmission of results has faced technical issues and allegations of tampering, impacting the perceived integrity of the electoral process.

Case Studies

India’s 2019 General Election

India’s 2019 general election was a logistical marvel, involving over 900 million eligible voters. Key statistics include:

  • Voter Turnout: 67.1%, the highest ever in Indian history.
  • Electoral System: First-past-the-post.
  • Major Outcome: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 37.4% of the vote, translating into 55.8% of the seats in the Lok Sabha, showcasing the disproportionality inherent in FPTP systems.

Germany’s 2021 Federal Election

Germany’s 2021 federal election highlighted the strengths of a mixed-member proportional system:

  • Voter Turnout: 76.6%.
  • Electoral System: Mixed-member proportional.
  • Major Outcome: The Social Democratic Party (SPD) received 25.7% of the vote and 25.7% of the seats, reflecting a high degree of proportionality.

Brazil’s 2022 General Election

Brazil’s 2022 general election was notable for its polarized political climate and use of electronic voting:

  • Voter Turnout: 79.3%.
  • Electoral System: Proportional representation for legislative elections.
  • Major Outcome: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidential election with 50.9% of the vote in a closely contested runoff.

Opportunities for Data Science

The integration of data science into electoral processes presents significant opportunities

to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and transparency of elections. Data science can be applied in various aspects of elections, including voter behavior analysis, election forecasting, and combating misinformation.

Voter Behavior Analysis

Data scientists can analyze voter data to identify patterns and trends in voter behavior. This includes:

  • Segmenting Voters: By analyzing demographic and psychographic data, data scientists can segment voters into various categories based on factors such as age, gender, income, education, and political preferences. This segmentation helps in understanding the motivations and concerns of different voter groups.
  • Predicting Turnout: Machine learning models can predict voter turnout based on historical data and current trends. These predictions can inform campaign strategies and resource allocation to target areas with potential low turnout.
  • Issue Prioritization: Text mining and sentiment analysis of social media and survey data can identify key issues that resonate with voters. Political parties can tailor their messages to address these concerns effectively.

Election Forecasting

Data science plays a critical role in election forecasting, providing more accurate and reliable predictions of election outcomes:

  • Polling Data Analysis: Combining and analyzing polling data from various sources can improve the accuracy of predictions. Advanced statistical techniques, such as Bayesian modeling, can account for biases and uncertainties in polling data.
  • Simulation Models: Data scientists use simulation models to run thousands of hypothetical election scenarios based on different assumptions. These models help in understanding the potential impact of various factors on election outcomes.
  • Real-Time Forecasting: On election day, real-time data from exit polls and early results can be fed into predictive models to provide up-to-the-minute forecasts of election outcomes.

Combating Misinformation

Data science is essential in combating misinformation and ensuring the integrity of electoral information:

  • Identifying Fake News: Machine learning algorithms can detect patterns and characteristics of fake news articles. Natural language processing (NLP) techniques are used to analyze the content and flag suspicious information.
  • Tracking Disinformation Campaigns: Data scientists can monitor social media platforms for coordinated disinformation campaigns. Network analysis can identify the spread and origin of false information, allowing for timely interventions.
  • Educating Voters: Data-driven tools can be developed to educate voters about identifying reliable sources of information. Interactive platforms can provide fact-checking services and debunk common myths related to elections.

Enhancing Electoral Transparency

Data science can enhance the transparency and trustworthiness of electoral processes:

  • Transparent Data Sharing: Open data initiatives can make electoral data publicly available in user-friendly formats. This transparency allows independent analysts and watchdogs to verify election results and processes.
  • Blockchain Technology: Integrating blockchain technology with voting systems can create immutable and transparent records of votes, reducing the risk of tampering and fraud.
  • Audit and Verification: Statistical auditing techniques, such as risk-limiting audits, can be used to verify election outcomes. These audits involve randomly sampling ballots and comparing them to reported results to ensure accuracy.

Electoral Reforms and Future Directions

The global landscape of elections is constantly evolving, with many countries undertaking reforms to improve their electoral systems and processes.

Prominent Electoral Reforms

  • Chile: Chile has implemented significant electoral reforms, including the introduction of proportional representation and gender quotas, to enhance representation and fairness.
  • Mexico: Mexico has reformed its electoral institutions to increase transparency and reduce the influence of money in politics. The establishment of the National Electoral Institute (INE) has been a key factor in these improvements.

Future Directions

  1. Enhanced Voter Education: Increasing voter education efforts can boost participation and ensure that citizens make informed choices.
  2. Improved Accessibility: Making voting more accessible through mail-in ballots, extended voting periods, and better facilities for disabled voters can increase turnout.
  3. Technology and Security: Balancing the use of technology with robust security measures is crucial to protect the integrity of elections.
  4. International Cooperation: Sharing best practices and collaborating on electoral standards can help countries strengthen their democratic processes.


The statistics of elections across different societies reveal a diverse and complex picture. High voter turnout, proportional representation, gender parity, and electoral integrity are hallmarks of healthy democracies, while low participation, disproportional outcomes, and compromised integrity present significant challenges. By examining these statistics and learning from successful case studies, countries can strive to improve their electoral processes, ensuring that they reflect the will of the people and uphold democratic values.

The integration of data science into electoral processes offers promising opportunities to enhance electoral efficiency, accuracy, and transparency. By leveraging data-driven insights, democracies can better understand voter behavior, predict election outcomes, combat misinformation, and ensure the integrity of electoral processes. As technology continues to evolve, the role of data science in elections will become increasingly important in shaping the future of democratic governance.

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In O'Fallon Labs we help recent graduates and professionals to get started and thrive in their Data Science careers via 1:1 mentoring and more.


Saeed Mirshekari

Saeed is currently a Director of Data Science in Mastercard and the Founder & Director of OFallon Labs LLC. He is a former research scholar at LIGO team (Physics Nobel Prize of 2017).

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