Voter turnout for the 1996 presidential election marked a record low, caused in part by a preoccupation with other things, the Census Bureau reported Monday.

Just 54.2 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots, the lowest level since the bureau began compiling the figures in 1964. The Congressional Research Service said it has not recorded such a light turnout since it began keeping records in 1948."Among Americans who were registered but did not vote, more than one in five told us they didn't go to the polls because they couldn't take time off from work or were too busy," said Lynne Casper, a co-author of the report. That was triple the proportion of nonvoters who gave that reason in 1980, she said.