Voter turnout is one of the most significant factors affecting a country’s election outcome. When people vote, they are expressing their support for the candidate and party that they believe will make the best decisions regarding the country’s future.
In general, voter turnout in the United States has been steadily declining over the past few decades. Only 52 percent of eligible American voters cast ballots in 2016 – a record low that contrasts sharply with other Western democracies such as Iceland (88 percent) and Finland (82 percent).
There are several reasons why individual Americans don’t vote. However, a growing body of research suggests that voter apathy is playing an increasingly important role in American elections.
This article will explore some of the main factors driving this decline in voter participation, provide examples from real-world experiments where this phenomenon was successfully challenged, and outline some potential solutions moving forward.
How does apathy affect American elections?
As voter turnout has fallen over the past few decades, so has the share of votes garnered by the two major parties. This trend has had a significant impact on the political landscape, with the GOP now holding both the White House and Congress.
This decline in voter turnout may also be affecting the quality of American democracy. By not participating, apathetic voters are losing a chance to influence the choices made by their government. Apathy can have serious consequences on American elections.
One important consequence is the potential shift of political power to the parties that are less well-represented by voters. That said, it’s not clear that apathy in the U.S. has resulted in the Republicans gaining more power than the Democrats.
Why is voter turnout declining in the U.S.?
In general, voter turnout in the U.S. has been steadily declining over the past few decades. While turnout increased modestly between 1964 and 1968, it has fallen in each successive election cycle since then. The 2016 election was no exception: 52 percent of eligible American voters cast ballots.
Furthermore, the share of citizens who vote has consistently been below the levels observed in Western democracies, such as Iceland (88 percent) and Finland (82 percent). There are several reasons why individual Americans don’t vote. Some may cite the inconvenience of getting to the polls, while others may identify with the argument that their vote doesn’t matter.
As political scientists have noted, however, apathy can also arise when individuals feel that there are no clear differences between the candidates or parties on offer.
How can apathetic voters be motivated to participate?
There are several ways that apathetic voters can be motivated to participate in the electoral process. For example, researchers have found that promising financial incentives can help boost turnout among low-income voters.
In addition, it’s important to consider the potential benefits that come with voting, such as signaling one’s civic engagement to others. Voting can also serve as a form of social redemption: people who feel that they didn’t exercise their right to vote in the past may find the act of participating in the electoral process a form of penance.
Strategies for increasing voter turnout
Several strategies can be used to encourage apathetic voters to participate in the electoral process. Perhaps the most straightforward approach is to ensure that voters feel informed about the issues that affect their everyday lives. In addition, it may also be helpful to provide more detailed information about the voting process, such as providing information about the location and hours of polling places.
It may also be helpful to place greater emphasis on promoting the benefits of voting, including the potential benefits of influencing the country’s future decisions. And lastly, it may be helpful to promote the idea that voting can be a form of social redemption, particularly for those who feel that they haven’t been involved in the electoral process in the past.