[FROM THE PAPER] Democrappy

Laura Creighton - Deputy Politics Editor

Image: YouTube (svastgfx)

VOTER turnout has been steadily decreasing in Britain over the past few decades. dropping from 83.9% in 1950 to 66% in the 2015 general election. Voter turnout is integral for democracy to work, so when so few people are flocking to the polls to cast their vote, it has an effect on the country as a whole, as well as political strategy. Survation carried a survey which has revealed the attitudes of people who don’t vote, and explores the reasons behind it.

It found that non-voters are less optimistic about their futures than their voting counterparts. However there are similarities between the two groups, both of whom are concerned with economic stability, and both believe that their lives would be better in the future.

Image: Paul Seddon
Image: Paul Seddon

One issue that did not matter as much to non-voters was the EU-referendum, and in general leaving the EU, in comparison to issues such as creating jobs and tackling poverty.

In addition to this, non-voters find politicians less trustworthy than those who vote.

The survey found that the attitudes of the non-voters are more or less similar to those of the people who do vote, making it less likely to be behind their lack of democratic spirit. Reasons listed by non-voters include, not believing thier vote will make a difference, lack of significant differences between parties and candidates as well as a lack of political knowledge.

Jacob Georgiades, an unemployed 20 year old who didn’t vote in the last general election said,

“I didn’t vote because I didn’t think I knew enough to make an informed decision. There needs to be more education in schools.”

This fits in with respondents comments that more educational materials would persuade them to vote more often. Other things which could improve voter turnout were a personal visit from candidates, and more information on how to vote.

The most recent case of dwindling voter turnout was in the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Statistics show that turnout is lower in the US than it is in most democratic nations. It is found that fewer people vote in primary elections than in general elections, with as few as 27% of the eligable voting population casting a vote in a primary election this year, which dictates which candidate will run from each party.

More people voted in the 2016 republican primary than voted in the democratic one, possibly reflective of the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s bid, however the turnout was still remarkably low.

Hillary’s run for president was seen by many as an equally controversial bid, with her troublesome political career being compared to Trump’s more personal failings, such as racism and a lack of respect for women’s rights.

Overall the election saw it’s highest turnout in New Hampshire, where a mere 52% of the population voted. Other north eastern states voted very differently with New York turning out to the tune of 21% of the eligible population.

Only 58% of the population of the United States actually turned out to vote on November 8, marking a decrease since the 2012 election which saw Barack Obama succesfully run for a second presidential term, meaning fewer people voted for Barack Obama than they did for Donald Trump. Turnout was higher again in 2008 when Obama made his original bid.

Despite the higher controversy of the candidate, this did not send voters to the polls overall, meaning there are more factors contributing to the apathy.

Hillary’s run for president was seen by many as an equally controversial bid, with her troublesome political career being compared to Trump’s more personal failings, such as racism and a lack of respect for women’s rights.

Hillary may have also struggled to garner as much positive attention as Obama did as the first black man running for president.

In spite of Hillary’s equally as historic standing, peopl by and large did not believe that she was offering any real change to politics, especilly given her involvement with Obama’s administration, and her husband’s previous time in office.

This would imply that instead of people going out to vote in droves for Trump, most of them chose to abstain from voting at all – now we wait to find out what affect low turnout has.

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