Voter Apathy’s Impact on Elections

May 30, 2023


Public Policy Institute of California

Voter apathy has many causes, ranging from time-constraints to a lack of interest in the democratic process in general.

One of the contributors to voter apathy may be the sensationalism that a presidential election brings. Social media and news channels help spread soundbites and catchy headlines about each candidate, riling up a sense of urgency to do one’s civic duty. It also helps to swiftly and efficiently educate the masses on the candidates’ individual politics.

For primaries, however, there is not nearly the same sense of community enthusiasm. This leads to many voters not knowing anything about the differences in values between the runners, leading to the minority who do care being the only ones to cast a vote.

Tim Elliot has been an election judge in every DuPage County election since 2012. He was the chief election judge for the 2023 consolidated election.

“There is definitely a barrier in getting people to go vote when they do not have any idea what each candidate stands for,” Elliot said. “There is a lot of research involved, and many voters do not have the time or energy to do that kind of research. The best these primary candidates can hope for is for people to recognize their party on those election signs on the side of the road. Even then, that is not a great system to determine who will be running our communities and country [as a whole].”

Primaries are not the only kind of election that receive little interest from the public, however. State and local governments rely on voters to determine who will fill each position, too. Despite these institutions having a greater influence on the life of the average citizen compared to the federal government, even fewer voters show up to cast their ballots. The 2022 general election, which was used to determine who would fill the state-level offices (governor, treasurer, state senators, etc.) had a turnout of 55.8%.

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