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mazingerz88's avatar

Why is it that only less than 40% of Americans vote?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18445 points ) March 25th, 2011

If I’m not mistaken in their last presidential election, more than 80% of the French voted. Young people in the middle east would now die to get a chance at it. Internationally, Americans are admired for democratic values and practices hence when a friend of mine from abroad found out less than 50% of Americans vote, he was shocked.

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31 Answers

cookieman's avatar

Assuming this statistic is accurate…

Because 60% of Americans are apathetic toward the political process. Some might even be hostile toward it and refuse to participate.

Either way, one of our rights in this free and democratic society (that many across the globe are literally dying to achieve) is the right not to participate, to not care, to prefer to watch TV than show up at the voting booth.

Sad but true.

mazingerz88's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs yes sorry I did not look first and indicated the exact source but for 9 years straight I have been reading the washington post daily and I’m sure I’ve read this figure several times in the past. Honestly.

TexasDude's avatar

The choice of candidates often boils down to having to choose between a douche and a turd. No fun at all.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard that sentiment is exactly one of the reasons my friend and I included in our why don’t young Americans vote top 10 list. Sad, in my humble opinion.

Coloma's avatar

Apathy is not the same as detatchment from the illusion that ’ we the people’ and ‘by and for the people’ has any true standing in modern politics.

Afos22's avatar

Less than 50% or less than 40%?

mazingerz88's avatar

@Afos22 hey thanks for noticing that. Should have been both 40% it was 2 am here in the east coast and a little tired…

cazzie's avatar

Political Apathy…. for whatever reason, is inaction. America pays a high price for this. Someone is running their country… and it isn’t the people.

kitkat25's avatar

That is something I have never understood myself. I registered to vote the day I turned 18 and have voted in every single election since then. Even when the election is only for small things in my own city I have voted. When I have known I wouldn’t be able to vote in person I have voted by the absentee ballot. I think that everyone who is old enough should make the effort to vote.

cazzie's avatar

Worst EVER self fulfilling prophecy: ‘Elections and voting don’t work or make any difference so I don’t bother with either.’

Your Vote: Use it or Lose it!

Axemusica's avatar

@cprevite pretty much nailed it for me. Well, minus the TV part. I’d much rather play guitar :)

I’m currently 28. I’ve not really paid attention to politics. All I know is, politicians are just thieves in suits & Presidents are puppets. So why vote? Both sides have some sort of personal agenda.

p.s. I know it’s kind of a taboo thing to talk about who you vote for (you know since I have yet to actually place a vote), but if you voted for Obama and did it for the betterment of the economy, how do you see it now? Since Japan is in a world of hurt.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because of taking modern democracy for granted. Which is a dangerous trend.

Egypt voters choose constitutional change and the turnout was more than 70%. Egyptians had to fight hard for more freedom.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I agree with @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard. Politicians say anything they can to get votes and hardly ever follow through with what they said; therefore, the voter is only voting for the most likable candidate. I am still waiting to see a candidate that says exactly what they mean and stands by it as illustrated by their voting record on bills, laws, etc. and if they change their mind on voting the way they said they would during their candidacy, explained why to the voting public their opinion on the issue was changed.

mazingerz88's avatar

@cprevite , @axemusica and @fiddleplayingcreole bastard The right not to participate of course. But must you exercise this? And solely for the reason that both candidate choices suck? American freedom is an experiment borne by real blood of those who came before you. Missed that in your history lesson I don’t know. There is also a line in YOUR constitution that says step forward when you see something that needs to be right. Does that mean you don’t see anything like that? Sometimes the tv and the guitar MUST wait. As for the politicians, you have never seen the worst kinds yet. Have you heard of Ferdinand Marcos, Suharto,Pinochet and wait who is that guy again, ah Gaddafi yes. American politicians are lovable puppies compared to them. Please try to get a better perspective of things, punch through that bubble. No politician will ever fulfill all promises made, much similar to our own lives never living up to our expectations. You have a right to be a cynic and a skeptic but must you do it?

buster's avatar

I would vote if Bill Clinton could run again. He kept the peace. Got the debt down. Gas was cheap. He turned the White House into a Ho House. And there sure was a lot of acid around when he was in office. And as scared as my dad was the government would come and get our guns because of him it never happened. Most presidential elections and what they bark about is just noise to me. I voted once and that was for Obama. So far Im not impressed with all the change Im not seeing. I wasted my time anyways going to the polls in Tennessee where he had no chance to win. Now a cool mayor that will build skateparks and public areas in his town and I have known mayors that have. I could get behind that person. Local elections seem more real for things that matter the most to me. Big ups to all the voters in Louisville Kentucky who voted for mayor Armstrong who essentially got a big bad 24 hour lighedt up 3 million dollar concrete built downtown.

mazingerz88's avatar

@buster will not disagree that local elections affect you directly and faster but hope you dont mind my saying that i think its worth it when even though theres no chance of winning in a place like that in Tennessee, to go out and be counted makes a lot of difference. It holds your being a citizen to its value. If its 1 million to one then that is even more important and powerful. We vote to win and being able to vote is victory unto itself! To me that is the whole point.

cazzie's avatar

You guys are missing the point. You think that suddenly you’re presented with two choices for president at the polling booth that fateful day in November? You are so very very wrong. There is a whole process involved to how those two end up in front of the nation and most of you are obviously ignorant to how this magically happens. Politicians are thieves and puppets because you LET THEM be thieves and puppets. Wake up.

mazingerz88's avatar

@cazzie whatever that thieves and puppets mean anyway. they are part of powerful lobbies that do not meet your taste? do they steal like dictators do? what is it? i mean what would you have in place? anyway what would i know since you as a non voter takes the majority, 60% who does not vote so you must be right.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@cazzie A prime example of what you are talking about can be found in DC between previous mayor Adrian Fenty and current mayor Vincent Gray. The most relevant information for Fenty is contained in “Unsuccessful 2010 re-election campaign” and for Gray in “Scandal”. However, taking Marion Barry into consideration, “Arrest” followed by fourth term, DC is not known for electing the best people.

mazingerz88's avatar

@optimisticpessimist imho that is not enough reason not to vote. personally, i believe it’s wrong for DC to kick out Fenty only because he was not more like his predecessors and they hated the way Rhee pushed hard for reform. They did not pay the dues so they were banished. And here you are with a Gray. Now, if this compels someone to be jaded enough not to vote then that is tragic in my view.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@mazingerz88 I was not saying that was a reason not to vote. It was just an example of people getting what they ask for. @cazzie made the point that it starts long before a presidential campaign. We vote in ‘bad’ people for lower positions all the time and let them get away with their behavior by re-electing them. They then continue to move up the political ladder.

cazzie's avatar

@mazingerz88 the thieves and puppets comment was a reference to what @Axemusica wrote. There used to be a saying… ‘In democracy, a country gets the government they deserve.’

mazingerz88's avatar

@cazzie oh there is no arguing that. question is if you don’t like what is out there, does not participating help your cause? Or is it that hopeless?
@optimisticpessimist i see. i was under the impression @cazzie cited a reason not to vote and you cited an example hence i mistakenly assume you support that as well.

cazzie's avatar

@mazingerz88 You’ve completely misunderstood what I’ve been writing. I’m saying that people should get much more involved in the entire process.

mazingerz88's avatar

@cazzie oh sorry, just did not get to read your first two posts and quickly reacted when you used the words ignorant, wrong and especially that part when you said “you let them be thieves and puppets” meaning the voter right? or did i misunderstood that as well?

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@mazingerz88 Just to clarify, I initially answered the question as stated. It did not mean that I do not vote because of this just that this is a big reason why, I believe, Americans, in general, do not vote.

cookieman's avatar

@mazingerz88: I was stating my opinion as to why too few people vote in the US. I didn’t say those were my reasons.

I vote and participate in the process to varying degrees.

Nice soapbox ya got there though.

mazingerz88's avatar

@cprevite That’s good to know. Yes, and now my soapbox slowly deflates…

Coloma's avatar

Aaaah, the world is full of armchair politicians. lol

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