Ranking the Presidential Elections With the Greatest Voter Turnout

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Voter turnout in the U.S. has steadily decreased over time. In the 2012 election, just 54.87 percent of the voting-age population actually cast a ballot. Among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, the U.S. ranked 31st out of 34 in terms of voter turnout in the most recent presidential election.

The U.S. takes prides in its democratic foundation, making low voter turnout troubling. But it hasn't always been so dismal.

Using data from the American Presidency Project, InsideGov found the 25 presidential elections with the highest voter turnout in U.S. history and ranked them from lowest to highest participation. Interestingly, the 10 elections with the highest turnout all occurred in the 19th century.

Can the 2016 election buck the trend of low voter turnout?

*Note: The American Presidency Project uses the total Voting Age Population (VAP) to calculate the voter turnout percentage. The VAP includes those ineligible to vote such as felons, resulting in turnout percentages that are naturally lower than if the Voting Eligible Population (VEP) is used as the denominator.

#25. 1968 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 60.84%
Winner: Richard Nixon
Competitor: Hubert Humphrey

#24. 1936 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 61%
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Competitor: Alf Landon

#23. 1916 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 61.6%
Winner: Woodrow Wilson
Competitor: Charles Evans Hughes

#22. 1964 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 61.92%
Winner: Lyndon B. Johnson
Competitor: Barry Goldwater

#21. 1940 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 62.5%
Winner: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Competitor: Wendell Willkie

#20. 1960 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 62.77%
Winner: John F. Kennedy
Competitor: Richard Nixon

#19. 1952 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 63.3%
Winner: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Competitor: Adlai Stevenson

#18. 1904 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 65.2%
Winner: Theodore Roosevelt
Competitor: Alton Brooks Parker

#17. 1908 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 65.4%
Winner: William Howard Taft
Competitor: William Jennings Bryan

#16. 1852 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 69.6%
Winner: Franklin Pierce
Competitor: Winfield Scott

#15. 1872 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 71.3%
Winner: Ulysses S. Grant
Competitor: Horace Greeley

#14. 1848 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 72.7%
Winner: Zachary Taylor
Competitor: Lewis Cass

#13. 1900 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 73.2%
Winner: William McKinley
Competitor: William Jennings Bryan

#12. 1864 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 73.8%
Winner: Abraham Lincoln
Competitor: George McClellan

#11. 1892 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 74.7%
Winner: Grover Cleveland
Competitor: Benjamin Harrison

#10. 1884 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 77.5%
Winner: Grover Cleveland
Competitor: James Blaine

#9. 1868 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 78.1%
Winner: Ulysses S. Grant
Competitor: Horatio Seymour

#8. 1844 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 78.9%
Winner: James K. Polk
Competitor: Henry Clay

#7. 1856 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 78.9%
Winner: James Buchanan
Competitor: John Fremont

#6. 1888 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 79.3%
Winner: Benjamin Harrison
Competitor: Grover Cleveland

#5. 1896 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 79.3%
Winner: William McKinley
Competitor: William Jennings Bryan

#4. 1880 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 79.4%
Winner: James A. Garfield
Competitor: Winfield Scott Hancock

#3. 1840 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 80.2%
Winner: William Henry Harrison
Competitor: Martin Van Buren

#2. 1860 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 81.2%
Winner: Abraham Lincoln
Competitor: John Breckinridge

#1. 1876 Election

Voter Turnout Percentage: 81.8%
Winner: Rutherford B. Hayes
Competitor: Samuel Tilden

Research U.S. Presidents at InsideGov


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