The United States may be an iconic democracy, but every year many Americans don't bother voting at all — regardless of lower turnout caused by events like Hurricane Sandy. The United States ranks 120th of the 169 countries for which data exists on voter turnout, falling between the Dominican Republic and Benin, according to a January 2012 study from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. (Not all countries ranked were democracies, a factor that could skew the results.) About 60 percent of eligible voters will likely cast ballots Tuesday, a lower percentage than in most other Western democracies, said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. [ The Strangest Elections in US History ] Experts say the low turnout results from how often Americans conduct elections, the inconvenience of voting and the reality that each individual vote doesn't count for much.
“Part of the issue is we have too much democracy,” McDonald said. “We're just voting a lot in the U.S.” With state, local and national races, as well as mid-term elections, most Americans have a chance to cast a ballot about once every year. Other Western democracies may only have an election every five years, McDonald told LiveScience. That frequency makes voting a hassle, he said.