Voter Turnout in Federal Elections Essay

In the past half of the 20th century. research workers observed a diminution in the elector turnout in federal elections. It has besides been observed that the elector turnout has been higher in presidential elections than in midterm elections. The chief factors of the diminutions are the citizens’ negative public attitudes and the widespread political “apathy” . On the other manus. the difference between presidential and midterm election elector turnout was caused by what I call the “media effect” . which is explained in the essay. and besides Kernell’s theory. One of the chief factors of federal ballot turnout diminution is the negative public attitudes toward the public presentation of the politicians and political establishments involved in federal political relations. The objects of sensed public displeasure run the complete gamut of forces and establishments. but when asked. people most conspicuously reference “politicians” and “the government” . general footings which indicate the wide nature of the attitudes people ascribe to others. These negative attitudes are non needfully personally held by respondents who voted in the election.

However. it is likely that these feelings are reasonably widespread. The loadstones of discontent are politicians and the authorities. There is a widespread perceptual experience that politicians are untrusty. selfish. unexplainable. deficiency credibleness. are non true to their word. etc. Similarly. the authorities. sometimes imagined with a capital “G” and sometimes without. betrays the people’s trust. and accomplishes little. Campaigners are besides mentioned often. because as one might anticipate. they are perceived to hold the same mistakes as “politicians” . Political parties are singled out every bit good. because some attributed the lowered vote rate to the troubles people might hold in happening any good picks. or in separating between the parties that do be. Potential electors have trouble in associating to the issues brought frontward by the parties at election clip. or sometimes that the proposed policies are misguided. This factor resulted in fewer and fewer people voting in federal runs because people look at politicians as bad people who will non. while in office. be working for the common good.

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The other major factor for the diminution in vote is public “apathy” . Harmonizing to many people. we are faced with a state of affairs where people merely do non care. make non pay attending. are lazy. or do non happen the political scene exciting plenty. A fluctuation of this account is that people see non-voters as merely interested in other things. giving political engagement a low precedence. Or possibly it is because those taking non to vote hold non bothered to acquire the information required to project a meaningful ballot. Some people merely have attitudes of cynicism. disenchantment. disheartenment. defeat and hopelessness. and immature people constitute a large per centum of them. Apathy has strongly contributed in the overall ballot turnout because many people simple “don’t bother to vote” . Consequently. it is diagnostic of a political system that fails to adequately stand for the involvements of electors. while at the same clip fails to prosecute citizens in the political procedure.

There has ever been a large spread in elector turnouts between presidential and midterm elections. The presidential runs are much stronger than the midterm runs: much more dearly-won. more influential. and more of import. One of the chief factors impacting this large spread is the influence of media. which puts a batch of attempt and clip into the presidential run get downing about three old ages before the general elections. During this period. people foremost acquire to cognize the presidential campaigners. and more significantly. they observe the lifting fire of competition between them. This stimulates their political action and makes them vote. This consequence. which I will name the Media Effect. has really small influence on midterm elections because midterm candidates’ runs can non afford immense media disbursals.

Finally. the other ground for lower elector turnout in midterm elections than in presidential elections is similar to the coattail consequence: presidential elections bring less interested electors to polls. who vote for presidential victor and his congressional party. Those peripheral electors don’t ballot in the midterm election. so congresswomans of president’s party lose seats. It is besides necessary to advert the observation that normally the president’s party normally loses seats in the House of Representatives. This phenomenon is described in Samuel Kernell’s thesis as the Negative Voter Theory: President’s popularity tends to be lower two old ages after he won presidential election. Economy is frequently in a slack. Peoples are more likely to vote for negative grounds. than for positive 1s. Hence. those disapproving of president’s occupation public presentation are more likely to vote than approvers. and they are more likely to vote for the non-presidential party’s congressional campaigners.

Historically. elector turnout was considered high during the nineteenth century among eligible electors ; nevertheless. it dipped around 1900 because of the party system of 1896-1932 that created one-party provinces and less general election competition. every bit good as rise of elector enrollment systems. Causes of enrollment system rise were: progressive anti-corruption temper ; anti-immigrant sentiment ; rural countries sought to keep their power. Turnout was besides reduced by prejudiced vote devices in the South: canvass revenue enhancements ; literacy and constitutional reading trials ; long residence demands and early shutting day of the months. Today. all the restricting factors have been eliminated ( canvass revenue enhancements. literacy trials. etc… ) . but turnout in twentieth century has hovered around 50 % in presidential elections. There is a necessity that people understand that their ballot is of import. and that it makes a difference. Because we are a representative democracy. we need to set the right people in office: people who can stand for us. If we do non vote. we can non carry through this.


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