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Democracies hold elections to enable citizens to vote for their representatives. Turnout at elections refers to the proportion of citizens who make use of this opportunity to vote. In this paper, turnout is calculated as the total number of valid votes as a proportion of all people registered to vote, unless stated otherwise.

In the UK, elections are held at different levels of governance. This paper covers the higher-level elections: those for the UK Parliament’s House of Commons, the devolved administrations, local councils, and the European Parliament (up until 2019). It does not cover elections for Police and Crime Commissioners, mayors and parish councils.

Turnout is normally highest in UK Parliament (general) elections, followed by devolved administration elections, local elections and European Parliament elections. The chart below shows turnout at the most recent election of each type.

Turnout at general elections 1918-2019

Turnout is normally highest in general elections, followed by devolved administration elections, local elections and European Parliament elections. The chart below shows turnout at the most recent UK elections by type.

Comparison by type of election

There is substantial variation, for all these elections, among the different countries, regions, constituencies and local authorities of the UK. Younger people are less likely to vote than older people at general elections.

Further detailed charts and appendix tables are available in the PDF document.


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