Memory: Voter Turnout and Compulsory Voting Laws Essay

Submitted By swimmergrad
Words: 1193
Pages: 5

Though casting a vote is deemed the easiest way for citizens to participate in America’s political system, an overwhelming percent of the American electorate did not participate in the 2012 election. There are two ways of measuring voter turnout, one is by calculating the percent of the voting age population that made it too the polls, the other is calculating the percent of the voting eligible population the made it too the polls. The voting age population is made up of citizens who are eligible to vote after reaching the United States age requirement of 18 years. The voting eligible population is the same measurement but it excludes those who are not legally eligible to cast a ballot.
According to the ABC News article Election results 2012: Voter turnout lower than 2008 and 2004, report says “the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, put 2012 voter turnout at 57.5% of all eligible voters compared to 62.3% who voted in 2008 and 60.4% who cast ballots in 2004. In 2000, the turnout rate was 54.2%”. This shows the turnout rate continues to decrease and a whopping 42.5% of America’s eligible voters did not cast ballots in this previous election.
Low voter turnout is often caused by voter fatigue. Voter Fatigue happens when people do not show up to the polls for several reasons. They are often not interested in the political issues at hand, or do not feel that it is worthwhile to educate themselves on the issues. When either of these two happens, the voters feel that it is not worth casting their ballots. Another reason people may choose not to vote is because they feel that the election has “already been won” by a certain side or candidate. Other reasons include because they feel that they have too vote too often, whether for election an official or voting on a law, or are too busy to make it to the polling stations.
Most would think that this low voter turnout would have a negative affect on the democracy of the United States, and say that simply encouraging more people to make it to the polls and getting more people registered to vote would be beneficial. In reality though, the result of increased participation is low information voters.
Low information voters, also referred to as LIVs and misinformation voters, are people that may vote, but are not well informed about politics. Attempts at increasing voter turnout usually turn to the least motivated and least informed groups of people. For example, during the presidential election of 2000, Democratic campaign volunteers were caught illegally offering homeless men and women cigarettes for their votes. Attempting to increase national voter turnout by turning to the least motivated and least informed only hurts the voting population. Trying to increase the voter turnout of the nation by encouraging the least motivated groups pushes away those that are politically informed and would otherwise cast good votes for the democracy.
Low information voters cause there to be low political efficacy in those that are well informed about government and politics. People with low political efficacy think that their one vote will not make a difference against all the others in the elections. With a large pool of uninformed voters, those that are informed don’t think that their one vote is going to make a difference against uninformed, giving those that would cast well-educated ballots a reason not to vote.
Though it would be assumed that with a large uninformed electorate, patterns of voting would change and election results would differ than with a small, well-informed electorate, that is not the case. Even with a large uniformed electorate, pattern of voting would not change because uninformed voters will stick with the most popular choices of informed voters rather than developing their own political opinions and beliefs..
As long as all citizens simply have the right to vote and equal access it is likely that the result will be the same