Democracy and Voting in America
Voting is a civic duty, however, its commitment to be practiced is questionable in the US, where voting is a right but not a mandate. Despite low voter turnout, voting is not at all random in this country. There are consistent patterns in the groups of voters that do vote regularly and the ones that do not. The Rational Choice Theory Model can also be used to predict and assess voting behavior for not just one person but groups of people. That is imperative since voting behavior and ultimately the actual voter turnout can determine an election. The theory can attest to the effectiveness of the methods used by each individual campaign. There are specific reasons for why people vote and who those people are. There are no arbitrary reasons for why people vote in elections. They vote based on their own perceived benefits from voting and the instrumental costs involved that may or may not help them vote. People are also graciously influenced from social pressure from their peers and their own concept of civic duty. “R = pb – c + D” is the formula that is used to measure the decision making process of voting, where “R” means Vote, “pb” means perceived benefits, “c” means cost and “D” means social pressure and civic duty. Calculating from this formula, it can be inferred that a person is more likely to vote if the perceived benefits outweigh their own personal costs in the election. The perceived benefits can range from a variety of factors: their confidence in the candidate’s ability to win, if their vote matters and if it could change the outcome of the election, the need for change based on leadership or policies, or if they can personally relate to a platform issue, such as the Affordable Care Act if a person does not have health insurance. There are also negative perceived benefits, for instance, a state, like California, can be declared early by the media as having already elected a candidate even when the voting period is not over. Media practices such as these can evoke a discouraging atmosphere among the electorate and question their need to vote, (Filla). If the perceived benefits are calculated as positive, then a person is quite likely to vote in the election, however, if they result as negative, then they are not so likely to vote. The costs must not outweigh the perceived benefits, so that a person can concentrate more on their benefits from voting and then actually go and vote. However, if the costs are higher, then the perceived benefits will be negative and can result in a loss of votes. There are many costs that can deter a person from voting. For instance, people have to schedule in time to go and vote in between their jobs, classes, and other equally important commitments such as their children. They also have to consider transportation and whether they want to drive there through long lines of traffic or rely on public transportation, especially if it may not be reliable due to heavy traffic on Election Day. How much a person knows about their candidates and their platforms also gets factored into their costs, especially if they do not know much about the election and the issues at hand. They are less likely to vote if they are uneducated about the election’s ongoing details, (Wayne). People are also misinformed and misunderstand the process of registering to vote, many do not register because they fear the prospect of jury duty, which is unrelated to voting and is not determined through registering. Many also have trouble finding their polling place. Not only that, but Voter ID Laws that were passed in states such as: Missouri, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Pennsylvania can also dissuade voter turnout, (Cillizza). Although, Pennsylvania’s law was suspended till the next election. These costs, can at times, outweigh the perceived benefits because they are actually concrete, whereas the perceived benefits are much...
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