Explain Why Voter Turnout Has Been Declining In The Past Half Of The Century And Why Voter Turnout In Presidential Years Is Higher Than That In Midterm Elections.

932 words - 4 pages

Voter Turnout in Federal ElectionsIn the past half of the twentieth century, researchers observed a decline in the voter turnout in federal elections. It has also been observed that the voter turnout has been higher in presidential elections than in midterm elections. The main factors of the declines are the citizens' negative public attitudes and the widespread political "apathy". On the other hand, the difference between presidential and midterm election voter turnout was caused by what I call the "media effect", which is explained in the essay, and also Kernell's theory.One of the main factors of federal vote turnout decline is the negative public attitudes toward the performance of the politicians and political institutions involved in federal politics. The objects of perceived public displeasure run the complete gamut of personnel and institutions, but when asked, people most prominently mention "politicians" and "the government", general terms which indicate the broad nature of the attitudes people ascribe to others. These negative attitudes are not necessarily personally held by respondents who voted in the election. However, it is likely that these feelings are fairly widespread. The lodestones of discontent are politicians and the government. There is a widespread perception that politicians are untrustworthy, selfish, unaccountable, lack credibility, are not true to their word, etc. Similarly, the government, sometimes imagined with a capital "G" and sometimes without, betrays the people's trust, and accomplishes little. Candidates are also mentioned frequently, because as one might expect, they are perceived to have the same faults as "politicians". Political parties are singled out as well, because some attributed the lowered voting rate to the difficulties people might have in finding any good choices, or in distinguishing between the parties that do exist. Potential voters have difficulty in relating to the issues brought forward by the parties at election time, or sometimes that the proposed policies are misguided. This factor resulted in fewer and fewer people voting in federal campaigns because people look at politicians as bad people who will not, while in office, be working for the common good.The other major factor for the decline in voting is public "apathy". According to many people, we are faced with a situation where people just do not care, do not pay attention, are lazy, or do not find the political scene exciting enough. A variation of this explanation is that people see non-voters as simply interested in other things, giving political participation a low priority. Or perhaps it is because those choosing not to vote have not bothered to get the information required to cast a meaningful vote. Some people simply have attitudes of cynicism, disillusionment, discouragement, frustration and hopelessness, and young people constitute a big percentage of them. Apathy has strongly contributed in the overall vote turnout because...

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