Voter apathy

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In politics, voter apathy is perceived apathy (lack of caring) among voters in an election.[1][2][3][4] Voter apathy or lack of interest is often cited as a cause of low turnout among eligible voters[5][6][7][8] in jurisdictions where voting is optional and the donkey vote where voting is compulsory.

A related term, voter fatigue, describes a possible cause of voter apathy: elections that are held too frequently.


Psychology is the study of the mind and of individual behavior.[9][10] The psychological factors that influence voter behavior are a voter’s perceptions of politics, that is, how the voter sees the parties, the candidates, and the issues in an election.[11] Many people are also very lazy when it comes to voting so they usually just pick the first candidates they see on the ballot just to get it over with. The farther down the ballot an office is, the fewer the number of votes that will be cast for it. This is called “Ballot fatigue”. The expression suggests that many voters exhaust their patience and/or their knowledge as they work their way down the ballot.

Prominent Founding Fathers writing in The Federalist Papers believed it was "essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people," and felt that a bond between the people and the representatives was "particularly essential."[12] They wrote "frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured."[12] In 2009, however, few Americans were familiar with leaders of Congress.[13]

Numerous reports suggest voter apathy is widespread and growing.[14][15] The percentage of Americans eligible to vote who did, in fact, vote was 63% in 1960, but has been falling since.[16]

Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson in Bad for Democracy argues that all citizens seem to do, politically, is vote for president every four years, and not much else; they've abandoned politics.[17] Apathy was lower in the 2008 election, which featured a competitive election for president.[18] Voter turnout in 2008 (62%) was the highest since 1968.[19]

See also


  1. "Why young Britons like me are the EU's most apathetic voters | Twiggy Garcia | Comment is free". Retrieved 2014-02-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Young Britons are EU's least enthusiastic voters". The Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. George Arnett (1977-02-27). "Is Russell Brand right? Are we disenchanted by politics? | News". Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Andrew Grice (2013-11-15). "Apathy? Alienation? How 'disengaged' four in ten voters reject ALL parties - UK Politics - UK". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Tom Clark and Rowena Mason. "Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – poll | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Matt Chorley (2012-11-17). "Landslide victory for voter apathy: The nation's crushing verdict on elections for police chiefs... a turnout of only 14% | Mail Online". Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Nicola Abé, Melanie Amann and Markus Feldenkirchen (2013-09-20). "Decline in Voter Turnout in Germany a Danger to Democracy - SPIEGEL ONLINE". Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Remedying voter apathy - In Focus - Jamaica Gleaner - Sunday | January 19, 2014". Jamaica Gleaner. 2014-01-19. Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Voter apathy alive and flourishing in once radical Manchester | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Siobhán Dowling (2009-06-03). "Europe's Unpopular Elections: Who Is to Blame for EU Voter Apathy? - SPIEGEL ONLINE". Retrieved 2014-02-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Amies, Nick (25 May 2009). "Voter apathy reflects lack of interest in EU affairs". Deutsche Welle.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Alexander Hamilton or James Madison (February 8, 1788). "US Constitutional Documents: The Federalist Paper No. 52". Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Congress` Approval Rating at Lowest Point for Year". Reuters. September 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "THE CONGRESS: Makings of the 72nd (Cont.)". Time Magazine. September 22, 1930. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Jonathan peterson (October 21, 1996). "Confident Clinton Lends Hand to Congress Candidates". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "References about declining turnout".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. interview by David Schimke (September–October 2008). "Presidential Power to the People -- Author Dana D. Nelson on why democracy demands that the next president be taken down a notch". Utne Reader. Retrieved 2009-09-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Guy Gugliotta (November 3, 2004). "Politics In, Voter Apathy Out Amid Heavy Turnout". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Voter Turnout Rate Said to Be Highest Since 1968". Washington Post. Associated Press. December 15, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>