Why do registered voters end up not voting?
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  Why do registered voters end up not voting?
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Author Topic: Why do registered voters end up not voting?  (Read 14790 times)
Pres Mike
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« on: March 04, 2024, 12:07:49 PM »

There are hundreds of online articles about why people never vote. This phenomenon is well studied. But they usually study people who never voted in their lives or only vote once in a generation (think Obama 2008).

What isn't discussed often is when someone registers to vote, but doesn't vote. Statistically, once someone is registered to vote they tend to vote. But in most states, 10-33% of registered voters didn't vote in the 2020 presidential election.

I find this odd. Why take the time to register but not vote in the end? There isn't much on the internet to go on.

Two theories

1. People are lazy. Its pretty simple to register online but going out to vote is too much for some folks. Not much different than lazy people who didn't register.

2. Some people don't know they are registered to vote. In my state, the DMV will ask you if you want to register when renewing your licensure. I wouldn't be surprised there are people who say "yes" but don't remember when election time comes
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The Economy is Getting Worse
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2024, 10:14:45 PM »

There are hundreds of online articles about why people never vote. This phenomenon is well studied. But they usually study people who never voted in their lives or only vote once in a generation (think Obama 2008).

What isn't discussed often is when someone registers to vote, but doesn't vote. Statistically, once someone is registered to vote they tend to vote. But in most states, 10-33% of registered voters didn't vote in the 2020 presidential election.

I find this odd. Why take the time to register but not vote in the end? There isn't much on the internet to go on.

Two theories

1. People are lazy. Its pretty simple to register online but going out to vote is too much for some folks. Not much different than lazy people who didn't register.

2. Some people don't know they are registered to vote. In my state, the DMV will ask you if you want to register when renewing your licensure. I wouldn't be surprised there are people who say "yes" but don't remember when election time comes
They might not really prefer one candidate over another. If Biden stepped aside, I might consider not voting.
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Pres Mike
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2024, 10:21:00 PM »

There are hundreds of online articles about why people never vote. This phenomenon is well studied. But they usually study people who never voted in their lives or only vote once in a generation (think Obama 2008).

What isn't discussed often is when someone registers to vote, but doesn't vote. Statistically, once someone is registered to vote they tend to vote. But in most states, 10-33% of registered voters didn't vote in the 2020 presidential election.

I find this odd. Why take the time to register but not vote in the end? There isn't much on the internet to go on.

Two theories

1. People are lazy. Its pretty simple to register online but going out to vote is too much for some folks. Not much different than lazy people who didn't register.

2. Some people don't know they are registered to vote. In my state, the DMV will ask you if you want to register when renewing your licensure. I wouldn't be surprised there are people who say "yes" but don't remember when election time comes
They might not really prefer one candidate over another. If Biden stepped aside, I might consider not voting.
But this is every election. I have a hard time believing that someone takes the time to register despite disliking both canididates every election
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wnwnwn
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2024, 09:46:24 PM »

A busy day.
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Crumpets
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2024, 04:19:05 PM »

I imagine a decent number of parents make sure their kids register when they turn 18, but don't really try to enforce a mandatory voting policy after that point.
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MarkD
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2024, 06:23:06 AM »
« Edited: March 13, 2024, 06:26:56 AM by MarkD »

There can be many other reasons. In my case when I decided,  in Dec. 2002, that I never wanted to vote again for the rest of my life,  and I didn't vote at all until March 2016, it was because I was disgusted with the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, and more generally,  disgusted with all judicial activism, all the occasions in which the Supreme Court legislated from the bench. The Court could, some day,  prevent my vote from being counted, or strike down a law I voted for, and which I was sure was not truly unconstitutional. One of my Republican friends asked me, "What if they raise your taxes?" I replied, with much agitation in my demeanor,  "Why should I bother if the Supreme Court can hand down a ruling that prevents my vote from being counted?"
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2024, 06:43:46 AM »

There can be all sorts of reasons! One perhaps overlooked one is unstable residence situations. For example, in 2022 I was a Georgia resident. But in the summer some things happened and I ended up crashing in another state for several months. I could not vote in that other state, of course, since I was not a permanent resident.

Should I have requested an absentee ballot in order to vote for Warnock? Looking back, probably. But, Georgia's voter laws are strict enough that I was worried about doing it wrong and getting investigated for voting illegally or whatever. So I didn't bother.

I imagine a lot of people who are temporarily residing outside of their state, or perhaps who moved close to the election and haven't yet updated their addresses, or are students, or are temporary homeless, or... you get the point. If you could vote anywhere or if getting a mail-in ballot was more straight forward for someone with wavering residences, then you would probably see voter participation increase. But no one wants to be accused of voter fraud. Easier to not bother.
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freethinkingindy
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2024, 08:28:40 AM »

I didn't vote in 2022 because I moved shortly before the election and wasn't eligible.

Lots of people haven't voted for President since 2016 because of disgust with Trump and the Democratic candidate.
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Flyersfan232
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2024, 04:23:53 AM »

I didn't vote in 2022 because I moved shortly before the election and wasn't eligible.

Lots of people haven't voted for President since 2016 because of disgust with Trump and the Democratic candidate.
i moved in 2021 a month after the primaries yet still voted ((though that was give a popular mayor I like my vote for the final time))
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Christian Man
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2024, 09:01:22 PM »

1. Lack of interest
2. Similar to 1, but registered to say they're registered as it's a "coming of age" type of deal, but doesn't actually care about voting.
3. Moved too close to the election
4. Too busy to vote
5. Forgot there was an election
6. Fell for one of those scams (like the text x to vote for Hillary one)
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kwabbit
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2024, 07:48:31 AM »

At least in NJ I'm pretty sure you just get registered when you get a driver's license. It's not an active decision so it makes sense that the less politically engaged would be registered but not vote.
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muon2
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2024, 08:41:16 AM »

In my experience talking to potential voters, the most common reason for not voting is not caring enough about any particular candidate to interrupt their daily routine to vote. They know they are registered, and know there's an election. They are just waiting for a convenient time. Even early and mail-in doesn't always help if the voter procrastinates thinking that election day is still available.
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Stranger in a strange land
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2024, 11:53:18 PM »

I imagine a decent number of parents make sure their kids register when they turn 18, but don't really try to enforce a mandatory voting policy after that point.
Add to that, a lot of states have "motor voter" laws or programs, so you can register to vote when you get or update your drivers license, after which a lot of people never vote even if they're registered.
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pbrower2a
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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2024, 12:21:17 AM »

1. They die. In that case they had better quit voting!
2. They move. Their registration in Pennsylvania may have not yet been cancelled while they vote in Virginia.
3. They become too senile to make electoral decisions.
4. They get indecisive on whom to vote in one election or another and decide not to vote.
5. Dislike of both candidates.
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Progressive Pessimist
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2024, 04:17:00 AM »

1. They die. In that case they had better quit voting!
2. They move. Their registration in Pennsylvania may have not yet been cancelled while they vote in Virginia.
3. They become too senile to make electoral decisions.
4. They get indecisive on whom to vote in one election or another and decide not to vote.
5. Dislike of both candidates.

6. They just don't end up feeling like it (rain, being sick, etc.).
7. They forget.
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satsuma
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2024, 07:33:44 AM »

Yes, I think just in general, there's a lot of apathy or dislike of all involved.

People who often move may have some difficulty keeping up with the paperwork involved or not even be "on paper" living in the place where they actually are.

And yeah if you're counting the voter registrations people leave behind when they leave the state, that could count the frequent movers as being registered in more than 1 state.

Motor voter exists in every state, essentially: 6 are exempt because they "have no voter registration requirement or have continually offered Election Day registration since Aug. 1, 1994." Most blue states (and a few red/purple) now go beyond the requirements of the Clinton bill by registering driver's license applicants automatically, rather than as an option.

Personal experience: I got my driver's license at 16 and there were voter registration drives at my high school so I could register at 17 (but not vote until 18). When I moved in my early 20s, I skipped one presidential election in part due to being disillusioned, but when I eventually bothered to get my new driver's license I opted to register to vote and then started voting in my new state.
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Mr. Smith
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2024, 10:43:12 PM »

Death. It's inevitable.
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holtridge
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2024, 09:08:08 PM »

It's either one or two things. Laziness or health problems preventing them from going to the polls.
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Schiff for Senate
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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2024, 04:14:34 PM »

Anecdotal evidence here that really applies only to CA and a handful of other states but...

Here in CA you can preregister once you turn sixteen (I did just that a couple days after turning 16 in April and got my confirmation email from Shirley Weber's office a couple days later), and once you do that you're pretty much automatically registered in all elections. It renews automatically unlesss you opt-out or whatever.

That obviously inflates the number of people that are "registered voters," and a good number of such people are probably uninterested in voting on a regular basis (or, in other cases, at all).

Now, why would they preregister at all if that's the case? The answer is kind of what Crumpets theorized:

I imagine a decent number of parents make sure their kids register when they turn 18, but don't really try to enforce a mandatory voting policy after that point.

Except it's not quite parents, but rather, high schools (at least the high school I attend and others in the area) that put the pressure for this to happen. Organizations like League of Women Voters conduct voter registration drives at all the high schools, and all the civics/government teachers make their seniors spend class in the auditorium or multipurpose room or whatever, going through a presentation on how to register. (The reason I'm so familiar with this process is because I was a volunteer at the registration drive for my school back in January - LWV flouted the number of students they got registered, but I'm sure only a fraction of that number will actually become regular voters, as I proceed to explain.)

Now obviously it's strictly optional, but given that there's not much else to do and that the preregistration process is very straightforward, I imagine a good number of students just fill in the form and hand it in to be submitted for the hell of it. Then they don't bother to vote; their ballot arrives in the mail and is left unopened.

That, in my experience, might be one simple explanation for why certain "registered voters" aren't voting. It's because they were made to register, rather than registering of their own initiative.

I'm sure in states where it's a little more difficult to do the registration process, where it doesn't auto-renew, etc., the proportion of registered voters that don't vote would go down quite a bit, because it would kind of winnow the field, if you will, by creating structural barriers that will keep out low-info apathetic voters who don't really care.
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