This book addresses a question central to the study of American politics: why is turnout in American elections so low compared to other industrialized democracies? With a combination of existing and original research, this book provides a simple explanation for the low turnout in American elections: rather than creating an environment conducive to participation, the institutional arrangements that govern participation, representation and actual governance in the United States create an environment that discourages widespread participation. To explore this argument, the author examines the origins and development of registration laws, single-member districts, such as the Electoral College, and the separation of powers and their impact on turnout levels in American national elections. To this end, the text employs a narrative discussing the impact of institutions on turnout in the United States and across nations, supported with extensive yet accessible data analysis. Hill not only provides students with explanations for the low turnout characteristic of American elections, but also demonstrates the powerful impact of institutions on political life.