Elections in the United States are characterized by low voter turnout. Discuss two demographic characteristics associated with nonvoting and three institutional obstacles associated with nonvoting.
Low voter turnout, or very simply put, non-voting, is a major issue in the United States today. By looking at demographic characteristics and institutional obstacles associated with nonvoting, we may begin taking steps to understand the reasons for such low voter turnout.
Demographic characteristics associated with low voter turnout are a result of the nature of people. Education plays a major role in voter turnout. Those that are not knowledgeable about politics are known to be less affiliated than those with more extensive educational backgrounds. Many times, it isn’t a person’s fault by being ignorant to politics. Every year, many immigrants and refugees flee their respected countries looking for a place of refuge. Most of the time, they turn to the “land of opportunities”, here in America. And when these people finally reach the US the last thing on their mind is trying to “make a difference” by voting for one candidate over the other. From our knowledge of the nature of people we may also hypothesize that a child will most likely follow in the footsteps of his/her parents. If the parents feel voting is useless you can be sure that as long as the child isn’t greatly educated, he will follow his parents beliefs. When an individual isn’t well educated, he or she might not understand how a candidate could affect their lives. This understanding comes with the understanding of the election process.
Another enormous demographic reason for nonvoting is that of religion. Many times, members of different religions have feelings that are not common to any of the candidates. This, therefore, leads them to disregard the voting process. In addition, statistically, older people and senior citizens are more likely to vote. This may be because they have more experience and are generally more knowledgeable. They know that although one vote may not make a difference, in the long run, their voices will be heard. Although it may be true that candidates don’t necessarily “hear” the voices of the minorities, these people should still get out to vote. Candidates, like George W. Bush, may not always look at minorities for many reasons. Firstly, a candidate’s main focus is on the interests of the masses voters. Evidently, these are the groups that will help them win the elections. Many candidates are cognizant of the fact that the minorities can’t help mush and they turn away from their interests. However, not voting doesn’t solve much. Therefore, minorities should still vote for whichever candidate supports their views as much as possible. For them, voting is one step in the right direction.
One institutional obstacle that contributes to nonvoting is that many of the states on the West Coast know who will win the election before they have much of a chance to vote. This is because of the media. Every station wants to be the first to tell the public who won the election. This stops many from voting altogether. This means that, besides not voting for the president, they are not voting for the senatorial and house candidates in the elections. I think that this was surely a problem in this past election, where people in the west were misinformed about Florida, and might have thought that Gore would surely win (because he won PA and MN as well) and they therefore decided not to vote. Many are trying to get rid of this problem, by asking stations not to put the numbers and results out until a certain time, so more people will vote. This gives people more hope that their favorite candidate still has a chance, and would lead them to vote.
Negative ad campaigning has also contributed to nonvoting. Negative advertising is where one candidate “dirties” another candidate’s name and personality, or in a larger sense, his image. Political scientists feel that candidates hope to get voters supporting the other candidate sick of the process. This usually works. People get so frustrated with this foolishness and don’t want to play this “soap opera” game any more. So what might they do? They don’t vote.
Many people believe that their vote is insignificant and won’t make a difference. Florida proved them wrong. Others just don’t have the time to go out and vote.
Another institutional obstacle and most probably the greatest reason in nonvoting is the actual difficulty in registering. It is a tough job to register by itself. Many people don’t even know where to go to register. And if they did, they still would have to take much time off and take this great hassle. Some countries have attempted to fix this problem and make registering automatic. Several states in the Unites States are also looking for the antidote and have now made registering available during one’s DMW test. This may possible work, because while someone is standing in line for his permit test, he/she might as well take another 5 minutes to bother registering. Another reason why registering is probably the greatest cause of low voter turnout is that if one is not that thrilled with the political process, or just bothered all the negative campaigning shenanigans, complicated registration can play a damaging role as a voting deterrent.
In short, voting is a way in which a group of people may involve themselves in the political process. Therefore, we must take advantage of this and try to encourage others to vote as well. The best way may be not only to educate the public but also to eliminate the other causes of nonvoting.
Author: Steven LIVI