In 2008, more than 57 percent of the population who were of voting age turned out to vote. That was the year Barack Obama was elected. But it was also the year in which the polls saw the highest number of voters seen in 40 years. In other words, it was an exceptional year for voters.
According to Pew Research, voter turnout has been dropping since the 1840’s, especially during midterm elections. Those who represent the largest number of non-voters are young, minority and low-income adults.
Who the non-voters are
Pew Research studies show that the largest group of Americans who do not vote are young, diverse, less affluent and less educated.
- 70 percent are younger than 50; 34 percent are younger than 30
- 54 percent never attended college
- Almost half have incomes less than $30,000 a year
- 43 percent are minorities, including Hispanics, African-Americans and others
Why don’t they vote?
One way of understanding why this group fails to take the initiative to vote can be demonstrated by Barack Obama’s election in 2008. According to one writer for The Center for American Progress, people vote when they believe a candidate can make a difference for them. Such was the case in the 2008 election.
But voter turnout has dropped again, and one of the reasons offered is that low-income minorities do not feel motivated to vote because they are not convinced that their vote will make things better for them. In addition, they do not feel there are enough political objectives that address the real needs of the working class, like minimum wages.
Other problems cited for minorities when it comes to voting is that they are three times as likely as Whites to not have the required I.D., much more likely to have transportation problems which prevent them from getting to the polls, and are three times more likely not to get an absentee ballot if they are going to out of town on election day. For many, it comes down to an inability to vote rather than a volunteer decision not to vote.