I Asked People Why They Don’t Vote, and This Is What They Told Me
By Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Some people might be indifferent or simply not care, but many who forgo voting have legitimate reasons.
Over the past decade, through my extensive research on civil rights and oppression, through my observations of social media comments and through my conversations with hundreds of college students, I have concluded that such reasons are both important and, generally, unnoticed.
1. Voter Suppression
Republican-led efforts to diminish participation in voting and voter registration have greatly contributed to the number of nonvoters.
In other cases, people might not know where to vote, due to the distribution of deliberately false information.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 that key aspects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, states have closed more than 1,000 polling locations, half of these in Texas.
2. Personal Choice
Some people decide to forgo voting.
I hear again and again that sometimes people make such choices because they were intimidated by friends, by family members or by people at polling places.
When facing the complexities of races with dozens of candidates and complicated issues, others say they don't feel they know enough to make informed decisions.
People have also told me they worry about feeling personally responsible if they vote for a candidate or position and there are unforeseen consequences, such as cuts to important aid programs. Members of any group, but especially those of underrepresented groups, may long to vote for desirable candidates but not feel that current candidates offer the possibility that anything will really change.
Individuals have shared with me that they have not voted because they do not trust a nation that they feel has lied and perpetuated systemic abuse against minorities, aggravated further by widespread gerrymandering and for presidential elections, by an Electoral College system that doesn't weigh each vote the same.
In France and India, for example, people who dislike all of the candidates can formally "vote" without endorsing any candidate by selecting "none of the above." Not having this option in the U.S. might affect turnout, too.
3. Obstacles to Access
For others, voting may simply be too difficult.
I often hear of people who — even with early voting or absentee options — cannot vote because they lack transportation. They are homeless. They lack child care. They are disabled. They work, go to school and live in different cities.
Such people are effectively disenfranchised.
4. Lack of Rights
Only non-incarcerated, mentally competent, registered citizens of age can vote.
Based on 2015 data, the right to vote was not extended to a more than 13 million people with green cards, work visas or refugee status. Given the total population of people 18 and older exceeded 248 million in 2015, one out of every 20 adults living, working and spending money in the U.S. was not eligible to vote.
As discussed in the books The New Jim Crow and in Race, Incarceration and American Values, an additional 6 million Americans cannot vote because of felony convictions, an issue that disproportionately affects black people. In some states, this disenfranchisement remains in effect for life.
Given the legitimacy of reasons why they don't participate, nonvoters certainly shouldn't be scolded with, "If you don't vote, you can't complain." Or with even harsher words, as one friend on Facebook put it: "If you don't vote, everything wrong in the world is your fault."
People long to be heard and deserve fair representation. Instead of bashing nonvoters, I recommend taking some deep breaths and initiating friendly conversations. Listen and learn. At a time when public trust in government is at historic lows, such conversations might even encourage someone to demand a voice.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Big Data, Big Oil and White Supremacy: Unveiling the Dark Forces ... ›
- Democratic Candidates Face off on Climate in the Last Debate ... ›
By Julia Conley
Representing more than 17,000 claimants who support climate action, the international organization Friends of the Earth on Tuesday opened its case against fossil fuel giant Shell at The Hague by demanding that a judge order the corporation to significantly reduce its carbon emissions in the next decade.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Eat Just's cultured chicken has been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. Eat Just
- Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts ... ›
- Slaughter-Free Lab Grown Steak Cast As Ethically Friendly Alternative ›
- FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat - EcoWatch ›
- Tyson Foods Invests in 'Clean Meat' - EcoWatch ›
The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.
By Jessica Corbett
A national nonprofit revealed Tuesday that testing commissioned by the group as well as separate analysis conducted by Massachusetts officials show samples of an aerially sprayed pesticide used by the commonwealth and at least 25 other states to control mosquito-borne illnesses contain toxic substances that critics call "forever chemicals."
- How Will the Biden Administration Tackle 'Forever Chemicals ... ›
- Are Forever Chemicals Harming Ocean Life? - EcoWatch ›
- How Chemicals Like PFAS Can Increase Your Risk of Severe ... ›
The government of New Zealand declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, a symbolic step recognizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions of substantial global warming if emissions do not fall.