Sunday, February 10, 2013

Voter Turnout Chile 1870 to 2012

The recent municipal election in Chile, saw a dramatically reduced voter turnout. This was mostly triggered by a change from compulsory to voluntary voting.

The following post briefly addresses the history of Chilean voter turnout from 1870 to present (2012). The period from 1870 to 1973 has been covered by Patricio Navia in a paper in the Revista de Ciencia Política (Journal of Political Science) from which the following table is extracted. The data is actually extracted from two books, namely:

  • Meller, Patricio. 1996. Un Siglo de Economía Política Chilena. 1980-1990. Santiago: Andrés Bello.
  • Cruz-Coke, Eduardo. 1984. Historia electoral de Chile, 1925-1973. Santiago: Editorial Jurídica de Chile.

The period from 1988 to 2001 is covered in a second table basing itself on the INE (for Population data) and two government sites covering the current and previous (since 1989) elections.

We have completed the data from 2001 to 2012. We added the population data back to 1988 and the voting age population data back to 1992 using INE's population projection. For the voting age population we took all the 20+ age cohorts and 40% of the 15-19 age cohort (rounded to values of 50'000). Note that the 2012 population data point (17.402 million) is significantly higher than the census data (16.572 million, see our previous post on the subject) and the 2012 voting age population data point (12.750 million) is significantly lower than the electoral registry data (13.404 million).

The census data and the electoral registry are just horribly inconsistent, as shown is the following side by side table (note that the age cohorts for census data have been extrapolated from the total using the ratio of 0.7333 in terms of voting age population to total population as observed in the INE projection data, for the electoral registry the total population has been extrapolated using the same ratio). Given that some persons should appear in the census, but not in the electoral registry (foreigners with less than five years of residence, prisoners etc), the data of either the census or the electoral registry (or most likely both) seems indeed quite flawed.

The voter turnout (voters as a percentage of voting age population) can be graphically summarized as follows:


  1. Can you please provide a link to the data in csv/xls format?

    1. Agreed, does not look like this has been done yet though

    2. Here we go:

  2. Not exactly surprising considering that formar president Salvador Allende, who dies in 1973 is still part of the electoral registry (