Why Do Some People Not Vote In Elections? : The NPR Politics Podcast For the eighty million Americans who didn't vote in November, government can feel distant. Non-voters tend to believe that things will go on just as they did before regardless of an election's outcome.

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Poll: Despite Record Turnout, 80 Million Americans Didn't Vote. Here's Why

This episode: congressional correspondent Susan Davis, demographics and culture reporter Juana Summers, and senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.

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Why People Don't Vote

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Why People Don't Vote

Why People Don't Vote

Why People Don't Vote

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"It makes no difference who is elected president – things go on just as they did before." It's a sentiment held by 53% of non-voters in the United States, according to a new Ipsos poll commissioned by NPR and the Medill School of Journalism.

A majority of respondents who did not vote in the recent presidential elections feel that voting has little impact on their lives, and that it won't change how the country is run. In addition to being disaffected, they are also more likely to be Latino, younger, and make less money than voters.

They don't generally, however, believe it is difficult to vote in the United States: Three-quarters say it is at least somewhat easy to cast a ballot. Instead, non-voters feel a sense of alienation and apathy; they are generally detached from the news and pessimistic about politics.

Those sentiments have proved a lasting challenge for campaigns and civic groups looking to bring non-voters into the process. Faith that the democratic process matters is a bigger challenge to overcome than simply teaching people how to vote.

In particular, Latino groups say that Latinos have a lower participation rate because of a historical lack of thoughtful and sustained engagement from campaigns and lawmakers alike.

A silver lining? More Americans voted in 2020 than in any other presidential election in the past century — about 67% of eligible voters cast ballots this year. It remains to be seen if that level of turnout can be maintained in future elections. That depends in part of whether voting reforms triggered by the pandemic survive into the future.


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Subscribe to the NPR Politics Podcast here.
Email the show at nprpolitics@npr.org.
Join the NPR Politics Podcast Facebook Group.
Listen to our playlist The NPR Politics Daily Workout.
Subscribe to the NPR Politics Newsletter.
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Adapted for the web by Eric McDaniel.