International Migration and Turnout Bias

International Migration and Turnout Bias

By Michael J. Wigginton, University of Ottawa, Daniel Stockemer, University of Ottawa, Jasmine van Schouwen, University of Ottawa

This article focuses on two commonly used indicators of turnout, VAP turnout (the number of votes cast as a percentage of the voting-age population) and RV turnout (votes cast as a percentage of the number of registered voters), and discusses possible biases induced by migration flows. Using a global dataset on elections in more than 100 democracies between 1990 and 2012, we tested the potential bias induced by the percentage of resident noncitizens and nationals living abroad on VAP and RV turnout, respectively. Through time-series cross-sectional analysis, we found that the number of resident noncitizens negatively biases VAP turnout, to the extent that a country with 10% noncitizen residents would have turnout underreported by nearly 4 percentage points. In contrast, we found that the number of nationals living abroad does not induce a turnout bias.

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