The overall enthusiasm within the electorate is the most important driving factor in turnout. But no matter if enthusiasm is high or low, the mechanics of the process do make some voters more or less likely to cast a ballot.
In the 2012 General election, traditional election day poll voters turned out at a rate of 72%. Those who are Permanent Absentee Voters participated at over 80%, nearly identically to turnout for newly registered voters. But, contrary to common wisdom prior to the election, one of the highest performing groups was online registrants at an average turnout of 83%.
The impact of these mechanical pieces was different for older and younger voters. As can be seen in the following chart, the strongest relationship to turnout for young voters was being an online registrant – these young people cast ballots at a rate of 30-35 points higher than their peers.
Among older voters, being a Permanent Absentee Voter was the greatest link to participation with 65-85 year old PAVs participating at a rate 15-points higher than their poll voting peers. In fact, the new registrants aged 65-80 turned out at a slightly lower percentage than the overall turnout of their age group.
This is just one snapshot, but does provide some understanding of how Voting Mechanics Matter and how their impact varies by age.