Excuses, excuses: Here are the reasons why people don’t vote, and why those reasons don’t make sense
Do you remember 2012’s Presidential race between Obama and Romney? Of course you do. Well, that year only 59% of registered voters actually voted–keep in mind, that’s just out of those who were registered. In that election, 118 million people voted, about half the country’s adults.
So if the other half of the voting-able populace didn’t care to cast a ballot for their own President…What can we expect when it comes to midterm elections?
Obviously, it gets worse.
The right to vote is the one shred of power we citizens have the right to utilize, and I for one find it hilarious that infrequent and non-voters actually agree with me on that! Apparently, 93%–that’s almost all–of infrequent voters would say that voting is an essential trait of being a good citizen; meanwhile, 81% of non-voters attest that voting is an important way for them to voice their opinions on political issues that affect the lives of their families.
So then…why aren’t they doing it?!
This graph breaks down the reasons people gave for why they didn’t vote:
This graph shows the reasons people gave for why they didn’t even register to vote:
Let’s examine some of the reasons registered voters decided not to turn out, shall we?
1. “Too busy”
I’m going to let the following graphics do the talking:
So, in a country where 33.5% of registered millennials were “too busy to vote,” the super-important task of TV watching is what’s been taking up the majority of their leisure time? (I wonder if they had any time to catch the election results between back-to-back episodes of Law & Order…).
2. “Not interested”
So…you’re not interested in who represents your voice in the government that, you know, governs the country you live in? Makes the laws and policies that affect you, your children, and the roads you drive on to get them to swim practice? You know that busted light at the corner of Main St.? Yeah, that’s a government problem. Your kids’ tuition rates when they go to college, plus the student loan rates they’ll have to endure? Yeah, elected officials vote on that. So, about your lack of interest…
3. “Did not like the candidates” (?!)
No one likes the candidates! Let’s be honest, most of the candidates don’t even like themselves! It’s not a vote over who you’d like to sit down and have a beer and a conversation with (winner: Joe Biden); it’s about their ideas for running your government! That’s what matters. It’s pretty ridiculous (not to mention incredibly uninformed) to think that absolutely none of the candidates support at least some of your opinions on important social/political issues. Not voting for candidates because you don’t like any of them doesn’t get you more representatives you will like—it just ensures that one of those apparently equally detestable candidates will be your representative, and you had no say in the matter at all.
4. “Illness or disability”
I must say, out of the reasons thus far, this one at least sounds legitimate. But, while I empathize with their situation, it must be said that absentee voting was created (over 40 years ago) for this exact reason–to alleviate the burden of going to the polls for those who cannot physically manage to do so. Ohio, for one, sends out an absentee ballot to ALL registered voters two months before the election, so anyone who even feels the sniffles coming on (or fears that on election day they might) can cast their ballot from the comfort of their own mailbox. Problem solved.
5. “Out of town”
Umm…sorry, again, but…this is not a valid excuse. See the point that ‘absentee voting exists’ featured above. IT DOES FOR THIS REASON, SO USE IT.
6. “Registration problems”
Ahem, what problems? Points for the vague and seemingly unsolvable issue here, but I wish they would’ve alluded to at least some of the specific problems they encountered. Could one of the problems have been not registering in the first place? Or maybe remembering it was time to register after being told it’s now too late to register? There are real problems with our system of voting, I’ll give you that. But if other people can do it, so can you. Citizen up, people. Quit making your “registration problems” everyone else’s “representation problems”. Nuf said.
Which leads me to another excuse from the graphs:
Ha! This is definitely the most entertainingly honest response thus far. Apparently, either 2.6% of registered voters couldn’t think of a better excuse for not showing up, or didn’t want to admit that they live in a closet where they retain no contact with the outside world, that they had to resort to saying, “yeah, I forgot…what’s it to ya?” This is just sad, people. SAD.
8. “Transportation problems/inconvenient polling place”
Again, there is this thing called an absentee ballot. They send it to you in the mail, and you send it back to them the same way. You have heard of mail, right?
— Christopher Phillips (@cdphillips1) October 28, 2014
— rhonda rawlings (@newsgirlron) October 29, 2014
— Greta McKeand (@GretaMcKeand) November 1, 2014
9. “Other reason/ Don’t know/ Refused”
18% of people chose this response. Really… they did. “Other reason”…okay, you’ve got me there–I don’t know what to tell you. “Refused”…well, that’s weird, but I get it; politics can be a touchy subject. But “don’t know”? Um… I didn’t even know the spectrum of ‘politically uninformed’ could get so bleak. Indifference is one thing. Apathy, that’s another. Lack of information, yeah, some people aren’t informed. But if they don’t even know why they didn’t vote, that’s pretty much democratic doomsday. Something needs to change. Can we legalize selective deportation?
I could joke about these responses of the non-voting side of America all day; but, in all seriousness, if you know someone who falls into any of these categories, please tell them you’re onto them, and that they need to figure out what’s up. And if you think this is a hopeless strategy, think again. 65% of infrequent voters admitted that conversations with their family members are influential to them in the voting process, and 59% percent said their friends were influential, too. So if you’re relying on the work of campaigners and political volunteers, think again. Volunteers try to get the word out to these individuals by going door-to-door and phone-banking; but more than half of infrequent voters reported that the information they receive from strangers has no effect on their decisions to vote.
Just start by reminding them that if they didn’t vote…
…they lost your right to complain.