How democratic is the United States?

On my web site, I explain the political systems of some 11 countries and these pages are very popular. I’m sometimes asked which nation is more democratic than another and, when I’ve time, I propose to write something about how to critique a political system.

Some of the questions that I would ask are:

  • How extension is the right to ┬ávote?
  • What proportion of those with this right are actually registered to vote?
  • What proportion of those registered to vote actually do so?

These tests, when applied to the United States (a country often thought of as one of the most democratic in the world), present a disturbing picture.

As explained in this story:

  • There are 50 million American citizens who are not registered to vote
  • There are 20 million names on registration lists that ought not to be there
  • Turnout in presidential elections is often below 60% and can fall as low as 51%
  • Of 172 recognised democracies, the US is ranked 139th in voter participation


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