The conventional wisdom that the poor are less likely than the rich to vote is based upon research on voting behavior in advanced industrialized countries. However, in many places the relationship between turnout and socioeconomic status is reversed. We argue that the potential tax exposure of the rich explains the positive relationship between income and voting in some places and not others. Where the potential tax exposure of the rich is high, they have more of an incentive to participate in politics. Therefore, where states have the capacity to tax the rich, politicians use fiscal policy to gain support. Using survey data from a wide range of developed and developing countries, we demonstrate that the rich turn out to vote at higher rates than the poor where the state has the bureaucratic capacity to tax the rich and where the political preferences of the rich and poor diverge.
From a new paper by Kasara & Suryanarayan (March 2013). The full title is "When Do the Rich Vote Less than the Poor and Why? Explaining Turnout Inequality Across the World."