Why don't people vote?

Spinoff from this thread.

I am curious, especially for those people who were eligible earlier and are registering and/or voting for the first time, why didn’t they vote earlier? Was there anything that anyone could have said or done to convince them to vote?

Personally, I don’t vote because, statistically speaking, it isn’t worth the effort to vote when the probability that the election will be determined by your one vote is virtually nil. You can skip the whole process and not suffer any consequences.

If someone could prove to me that my vote will be the tie-breaker, I’d do it.

I would imagine that others don’t vote because they don’t follow politics at all, so they haven’t formed any opinions. I’m exploring this option, but I just can’t imagine NOT having a political opinion, even if I don’t express it by voting.

Still others don’t vote because they’re too busy with their families, or because they simply don’t care.

I usually do. Last year I didn’t because I had just moved here and had foolishly assumed that the voting booth would be easy to find. It was pouring rain, I drove around for an hour, it was 7:40ish and I decided to go on home and vote next year.

I vote in every election and it’s done no good whatsoever. I resent a system which forces me to either waste my vote or vote against my conscience by choosing not who I support, but the lesser of two evils.

And, I could count on one hand the number of candidates I could have voted for in good conscience.

I would have voted for Nader, and been blamed for putting Bush into office, right?

To get people to vote, two things are necessary:

  1. Change this bizarre first-past-the-post system which obliges you to choose the lesser of two evils. What if you are neither Democrat or Republican?

  2. Field some decent candidates that speak for the people instead of ones that spout party lines and reek of self-interest.

This will be my first year of being eligible to vote. I tend to think that aside from many people simply not caring that some even get upset because it doesn’t really matter how many people vote with the whole electoral college thing. A candidate doesn’t even have to get a majority of votes to win the election. All they need are enough of the big states to win. I just think that kinda makes people feel like their vote means nothing when (I don’t know that much about the whole electoral college and everything so I may be mistaken) but I don’t even think the electoral college HAS to vote what a majority of its states citizens vote for. They can go against it and vote for whomever they want. I think that is discouraging.

The people do NOT have the power in this country, regardless of what anyone tells you. You basically have the power to run your life the way you want to and accept the consquences for it. Outside of that, your vote/opinoin/voice carries very little to no weight in having an impact on how the US is run.

Local elections are often decided on very small margins. Only a few new voters could change the outcome of a local election.

I understand people who feel like their vote doesn’t matter in the presidential election. I don’t understand people who don’t care about who runs the city/county they live in.

I’d have thought this last election would have disabused people of that notion.

True Eve. I didn’t say I agree with it. Just, that I can understand it.

Corrcet me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they leave out altogether some of the votes in this past election? Presidential candidates wanted to count certain counties and not others.

As the guy who started the other train-wreck of a thread, I feel I have an obligation to explain why I’ve never voted. And because I just woke up, and I’m feeling grumpy, I’m going to be honest about it.

I spent a decade as a druggie. Weed and hallucinogens, mostly. I moved a lot. As in, I rarely lived anywhere for more than eight weeks in over five years. No permanent address at all, which suited me. I had no desire to give the government any information about me whatsoever. Therefore, I didn’t vote.

As to why I never voted in local elections, I never stayed anywhere long enough to even know what the issues are until recently.

When I got into recovery, several years ago, I didn’t care much about politics, as I was more concerned with simply staying clean and making a living; I didn’t vote then either.

It’s only been recently that I’ve become interested in politics, and I’m appalled at what I see. As a gay man, there were no politicians out there who were doing anything to advance my cause. Advocating gay rights was considered political suicide. As a former druggie, I wanted to see marijuana legalized, due to the awful things I’d seen done to people who used it. Advocating even medical marijuana usage was seen as political suicide. I found that it was that way with a lot of what I believed in.

And so I was faced, time and time again, with my choice of straight white men deep in political debt to corporations, who were dedicated to casting people like me as the enemy of society which must be defended against. You can see where that would be discouraging.

Now that political campaigns necessitate the sort of budjets that only massive corporations can dole out, it’s sort of become like voting for Coke or Pepsi; nearly indistinguishable products that are equally bad for you, but have different labels. Such fine distinctions are pretty discouraging, to me. It took some massive incompetence at the highest levels to get me off my ass to vote for the other guy, who is hopefully just mildly incompetent.

So, I’m entering the voting pool at a point where I’m more educated about the issues, a more responsible citizen, and at a political juncture where candidates who wish to improve the political status of gay people actually have a chance at winning offices. The current leadership situation is sufficient to get me to vote.

So now you know. One last point to make. All of the scolding and guilt trips in the world wouldn’t have made me vote during some points of my past. You can’t shame people into voting. So, would the people who are pointing at non-voters please stop with the “Shame on you!” routine? If you want more people to vote, try and find ways to encourage them to do so. Casting aspersions on non-voters isn’t going to change anything except the size of your own ego.

Paco, I think that you are thinking about the re-counts.

I don’t mean to pick on you. It makes me sad that you are 18 and (presumably) a high school graduate and yet “don’t know that much about the whole electoral college and everything”

I always vote at every opportunity. I once won a local election by SIX VOTES. It changed the composition of our local school board from one persuasion to another (I won’t say what the issue was). Doesn’t matter? The major source of funding for our local schools is the local property tax. The major portion of local property taxes goes to local schools. One or both of those issues affects most residents. Yes, even renters. If taxes on your apartment building go up, you think the landlord takes the difference out of his savings account?

That said, if the rest of you don’t want to vote, that’s fine with me. Personally I think only people who (a) know what the issues are and understand them and, most important (b) agree with me, should vote.

If you don’t really know or care, please do stay home. If you really believe, for example, that there was no genuine difference between Gore and Bush, by all means, stay home. The rest of us who try to educate ourselves about the candidates and what they stand for will decide and leave you to griping about how you’re being oppressed.

First off, the current efforts to get younger people interested in voting, at least the ones I was exposed to, are not terribly effective, in my opinion. “Every vote counts” is so PSA-esque that it might as well be “winners don’t do drugs” with respect to how quickly you get used to ignoring it. Ultimately, I wasn’t interested in voting because I wasn’t interested in politics. Political issues always seemed to involve finance or economics, or in the case of student government, dress codes and ice cream. :rolleyes: Examples like the one in MLS’s last post, about taxes or whatever, are exactly what gets raised often in my experience, and they’re exactly what I don’t care about (although I do care about education, the other side of it). If I had been exposed to the political side of human rights and environmentalism, I would have gotten interested. If I had known which candidate in 2000 was more likely to start a war, I would have voted.

I too have a problem with the two-party system. Sometimes I think we should have separate and individually voted-in offices in charge of civil rights, taxation, foreign policy, education, and so on. I know it’s not feasible, but it seems to me like the only way we could possibly get the will of the people.

Also, although I don’t agree with people who think their vote doesn’t count, I understand it. Except for this: “If someone could prove to me that my vote will be the tie-breaker, I’d do it.” It has to be absolutely certain, eh Surreal? What if they could only prove that there’s a 94% change that your vote will be tie-breaker? You’d sit at home and think, it’s possible that my vote won’t matter, so I won’t do it?

Also, I see much less of a reason to vote in local elections than major ones, because the issues I care about are usually decided nationally. The mayor of Cambridge is not about to declare war on anyone. I know this isn’t totally true, and I will get to voting locally soon, but like I said, it’s major elections that mean the most to me.

And why is it that people think that voting for a minor party candidate is somehow ‘wasting’ their vote? Your vote is just as insignificant whoever you vote for!

I vote Green, and have met a lot of people who would vote that way, but, come election day, they “don’t want to waste their vote”. As if their vote was a bloody bet or something, and they don’t want to pick a loser. It makes me want to strangle them.

Mind you, I’ll be surprised if I bother next time myself, having discovered what modern democracy is really all about during the Iraq fiasco. Whichever weasels get in, you can be sure that they’ll do whatever big business pays them to, and bedamned to whatever Joe Public actually wanted them to do. It’s not as if we’re hard to fool anyway. There’ll be more selling off the few remaining public assets, more taxes for the middle classes, more jobs disappearing overseas, more people, more new housing estates on greenbelt land, more cars, more roads, even more expensive property that no bugger starting out can ever hope to afford.

Votes, schmotes. :mad:

Isnt that putting a little too much importance on yourself? How about voting to make sure there isnt a tie at all? How about supporting your candidate and the policies he supports? Most elections arent just about electing officials, what about the measures that were put up for a public vote? Your opinion on that certainly has merit.

A close election is always controversial and shows that the difference in the candidates arent that significant. An overwhelming majority, however, shows a mandate of the people to follow the path the popularly elected official has promised to take. It is far better to vote your conscience than to wait to be the tie-breaker.

That could very well be true. As far as “the whole electoral college” thing I am a high school graduate. In fact, I am a sophomore in college. Our high school government class was a joke. Rather than teaching us the things we need to know about to be informed citizens about the workings of our government we remembered the names and positions of our local politicians. For example John Doe is our police captain, etc. Don’t get me wrong, we were taught some information about our senate, congress, etc. but I really don’t remember how evrything works.

Achernar, I see that you list your age as 22. I’m guessing that you don’t own a home. I imagine you may care a little more about those pointless issues such as property taxes when you have a little more life experience.

That’s possible. It’s also possible that I genuinely consider some issues more important than others, no? I never said those issues were pointless, but I personally don’t have a strong opinion on them. I’m saying that if the only differences between candidates are ones I don’t care about, shouldn’t I leave the decision-making up to those who do care?

Oh, absolutely, Achernar. I will be very glad to help make the decisions that you don’t want to be involved with. I am very serious when I say that people who know nothing about the people or issues involved – whether from lack of interest or lack of intelligence – should stay far away from the voting booth.