Guest Post: Voter Participation

By Benjamin Nuland

Working as an official foreign observer team with Marissa Smith, I visited nine different polling stations across all six of the urban bags of Erdenet on election day (including polling stations at schools attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and former Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj).


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Voter turnout had a relatively slow start but gradually increased throughout the day. By 10 o’clock on election day, only about 15% of registered voters had voted, with voters 55 and above dominating voter representation. Around half way into the election at 3pm, 30-35% of voters had already cast their ballot. Long lines of up to 40 people and 60-minutes of total polling time didn’t discourage voters to leave, as many middle-aged voters between the ages of 30 and 40 showed up to the polls to overtake the elder vote. At 6 o’clock, around 60% of registered voters had voted. By then the polling stations were mainly empty, with some staffers submitting their votes to make up for lost time. By closing, around 70% of voters had cast their ballot, with middle aged voters making up the majority of those votes, and the elderly vote in second.

The gender split seemed even across the day. The gap tilted male in the morning making up about 55% of voters and women 45%. Around half way into the election, the gender gap began leaning towards the female vote, as small families, including mothers with their children, came in to vote; 55% of voters were women by then and 45% were male. By 6pm, more single women began showing up to the polls, growing the ratio to a 60-40 split. By 10 pm closing, the male vote seemed to close the gap a bit.



Voter turnout for this parliamentary election has fallen from 73.6% in 2020 to 69.3% in this election. The most notable contribution to this is decreasing voter participation from the youth, with voters ages 18 to 25 falling in participation from 62.5% to 56.23%. All this while the elder vote of those ages 56 and above saw a voter participation increase, rising from 78% in the 2020 election to 82.35% in this election.  But while some might assume that a lack of youth participation was the defining reason for the overall rate drop, this isn’t fully the case. Voter participation has also surprisingly decreased for the middle-aged voters, with voter ages 26 to 40 years and voter ages 41 to 55 years falling from 69% to 64.45% and from 83% to 75.3% respectively. Both cases saw a decrease of about 4 to 6%, similar to the amount decrease of the youth voters.

As expected from our observation, more votes came from women than men, with about 796,000 female votes compared to 652,000 male votes, a percentage ratio 54.95% to 45.05%. Looking at gender distributions, more women eligible to vote chose to vote (74.1%) compared to that for men (65.9%). Seen as a significant difference for voters between the ages of 25 and 55, the difference in percentages consistently reach around a 10% gap. For voters above 65 years old more eligible male voters vote compared to that of women.


There was a mixture of predictions and surprises when looking at voter turnouts for aimags and constituencies. Similar to previous elections, Bayan Ulgii, the Kazakh constituency, had the highest voter participation out of all constituencies, coming in with 73.6%. yet this number seems lower than normal, especially compared to their 80% turnout in the 2020 local elections. Aimags like Zarkhan and Uvs also had some of the highest voter participation, both with 73.8%, a constant compared the rates of 2020 elections. The greatest surprise was the high turnout for Ulaanbaatar, with over 70% voter participation on average across all districts, with its constituencies making up 5 out of the top 7. Keeping on with the trend of previous elections, northern regions had suffered the lowest voter participation, with various northern aimags, like Khovsgol and Selenge, sharing a participation of about 67% and below. Despite these changes and differences across aimags, it seems there is no great deviancy between the most participating participating regions and the least; the gap between the highest and the lowest is 9% when gaps for local elections can be as high as 20%.

Sources for this post include:

About Benjamin Nuland

Benjamin Nuland is a Jack Hachigian Undergraduate Scholar at Yale University currently studying history and international relations. Recently completing the Directed Studies Program, he’s received the Harold Silliman Topol Grant and The Summer Experience Award to study in Mongolia for the summer under the guidance of Professor Arne Westad and Professor Julian Dierkes.



About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots
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