Hannah M. Christensen '17, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2017


Political Science


Voter turnout is considered the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to assessing the health of civic participation in a democracy; low turnout in particular is indicative of broader problems. Although voter turnout is quite high in both Sweden and Finland, turnout is notably higher in Sweden despite a long list of similarities between the two countries. Why is there this puzzling discrepancy? This paper employs a “most similar systems” research design to consider a wide variety of factors that can affect voter turnout and ultimately concludes that the difference lies in several different features of the two countries’ electoral systems. These features include the method used to translate votes into seats, constituency size, the number of political parties, type of ballot used, and presence or absence of compulsory voting laws.


Written as a Political Science Senior Capstone in Comparative Politics.