Voter Apathy: A Modern Day Phenomena or a Historical Trend?

In the wake of the national midterm elections, there has been discussion concerning the current political apathy of Americans within voting age.

Historically, low voter turnout rates for both presidential and midterm elections in recent years have sparked controversy. What is democracy without willing and educated participants? While the downward trend is alarming, it does not come as a surprise to those who look at past elections. America, with about 59% of the voting population participating in the 2012 presidential election, has one of the lowest voter rates of worldwide democracies rivaling countries like Australia and Chile who experience 90% turnout rates. A lack of political interest is one of the main causes of this, with much of the population simply not caring about the results of elections. Another belief preventing voting is the idea that one vote cannot change the course of an election.

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With politics as polarized as they are today, those who don’t identify with a major party often feel ostracized from the political process due to a lack of representation, choosing not to participate at all. Midterm elections have always received less attention than presidential elections and this can be traced back to several different factors, the main one being that midterm elections are just not as exciting.Generally, the main demographic voting in the midterm elections are those who are unhappy with the current party in control of the nation. In this case, Republicans made up most of the voters, voicing their dissatisfaction with President Obama and the Democratic Party and successfully winning control of Congress. This is also a historical trend, happening in all but three elections since 1842.

The entirety of our government is dependent on participation of the people. Too often todays voting is written off as someone else’s job or something that is not a priority for citizens. People expect change but are unwilling to do the simplest thing to facilitate it. By voting, people ask for the change and a lack of vocalization makes our government unreflective of the opinions of our country and ineffective as a power. In short, unless those who are able to vote are also willing to vote, no progress will come.