Discussing Voter Apathy

Topics: Election, Elections, Voting Pages: 5 (1285 words) Published: April 20, 2015
Timothy Kennedy
American Political Parties
Professor Lindberg
“Voter Apathy”
Voter Apathy is referenced as a term to describe the phenomena of steady decline in political participation over the past 30 years. Apathy can be defined as the lack of interest, enthusiasm, emotion or concern towards a specific topic. Statistically, “voter apathy” may be displayed at the polls, but public activism is still a major part of society. For example, the “Occupy” movement is in every city with large amounts of citizen protests choosing a less conventional method of political expression, rather than the electoral process. Like that of “Occupy,” today there are infinite options to support certain causes, instead of just joining one of the two major parties and vote Republican or Democrat. The amount of third parties and interest groups are at their historical highest. Electoral Absence would be a more politically correct term for what is “Voter Apathy.” The low voter turn out in American politics isn’t just apathy so it should be described more as electoral absence. Present-day voting obstacles are less obvious than what existed in the past; like poll taxes, literacy tests, residency and citizenship. A year after the 24th Amendment outlawed poll taxes, the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed to enforce the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment grants citizens the right to vote without racial discrimination, but enforcement of this statute was long neglected, like other equalities. The many historical obstacles, designed to isolate the political process for manipulation by upper class white males, produced a ripple effect into the future of American society. In the past, the predominantly white upper class maintained control of the American political system, and family is said to have the most influence on political orientation. Race is identified as one of the key determinants of voter turn out, with Caucasian making up most of the pie chart. Whites have the highest tendencies to vote because they are also more likely to be more educated, with better career salary and more reasons to invest their time in politics. It’s not definite, but “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” can be applied to education level and political orientation passed on from parent to child. Political orientation starts forming when a person is born into the world. The three main long-term influences on political orientation are primary: family, secondary: education system, and third: career path. Besides racial or ethnic backgrounds, other influencing factors include age, education, gender, income, and citizenship. The strongest relationship is correlated between voter participation and socioeconomic status. Statistically and historically measured, the highest positions on socio-economic scale have the best likelihood to participate in the electoral process. The wealthier have more assets or income salary, meaning more personal value to protect from others or the government by getting involved. Usually different interests in taxes, like income or property, provide for other incentives to voice political opinion. Relative to the latter, the lower class and poverty line are just worried about paying the bills; where political engagement and voter participation doesn’t always provide material incentives. Voter Apathy is prevalent with low income and low education levels. Even the most educated people don’t completely understand the inner workings of the U.S. Government, but they are more likely to be involved in some form of civil activism (Portney).

More than ever before, students are enrolling in post-high school education and receiving degrees higher than a high school diploma. With dramatic increase in overall education level for younger generations, the scholars would assume voter participation also wouldincrease with proven statistical correlation. Over 75% of all college graduates voted in the 2008 presidential election compared to levels of 50% for...
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