Reasons Why People Don’t Vote on Election Day

U.S. Capitol Building - Reasons Why People Don't Vote on Election Day

U.S. Capitol Building/Image credit: Leigh Goessl

Election Day is once again upon us in the United States. In the U.S., every year it falls on the first Tuesday, following the first Monday, in November. Historically, a November date back to the late 1790s, which in that era made the timing feasible because harvests were mostly concluded and the cold winter not arrived yet, which made travel to vote easier. The electoral college in each state was scheduled to meet on the first Wednesday of December, so a 1792 federal law mandated voting conclude 34 days before this gathering.

Fast-forward to modern day and casting a vote has become simplified in many ways. In 1845 the federal government established a standardized day to hold voting and this has continued over the decades. Today there are polls in each district and, for many, only local travel is involved. Yet, many people choose to pass on casting a vote and instead stay home, even in presidential election years.

There are many reasons why voters opt to skip a trip to the polls which range from strong feelings to not really caring much about politics at all.

Reasons Why People Don’t Vote on Election Day


One of the primary reasons many voters sit home on Election Day is because they have grown to become apathetic over time. Voters have grown tired of lies, corruption and empty promises, making them cynical and indifferent. They figure their vote doesn’t matter anyway since nothing changes.

Voters in this category often do not believe either Republicans or Democrats will solve problems, both existing and those issues lurking on the horizon. Many may have once had strong feelings about politics, but this has been tainted and, over time, evolved to indifference.

Frustration and Anger

Many people are frustrated about how important issues are either being ignored or compounded and getting worse. As a result, they have become angry. According to a 2012 article in USA Today, a nationally-held poll found 59 percent of people surveyed who were eligible to vote, but likely not going to, felt nothing was going to get done anyway. Essentially, they feel business will continue as usual, no matter who is elected from either party, so they stay home.

Additionally, the media and “big two” parties (Republican and Democrat) have pretty much brainwashed society that their vote will not count if they vote for a third party candidate, thus “wasted”. Instead, these independently-inclined voters simply don’t show up at the polls because they don’t want to vote the lesser of what they perceive as two evils. 


Another group of eligible, but non-voters, are those who are uniformed. People often get busy in the day-to-day issues and may not keep up with politics and societal issues. Thus, some people in this group don’t feel educated enough to cast a vote and may not even know who the candidates are, so they opt to stay away from the polls.

Lack of Interest or Too Busy

Other people opt to avoid the polls on Election Day because they either are not interested in politics or are too busy to go to the polls. Maybe they don’t want to stand in line or are too tired after work. In 2008, the Census Bureau voting survey found 13 percent of those interviewed expressed a lack of interest in elections (courtesy Psychology Today). In 2012, this number jumped to 15.7 percent. Additionally, 18.9 percent of those surveyed said they were too busy (courtesy

Illness or Disability

There are some people who may or may not want to vote, but do not because they are ill or have a disability. Surveys in recent years have shown approximately 14 percent of non-voters cannot make it to the polls. 

Negative Campaigns

Today’s elections are riddled in negativity. Millions of campaign dollars are spent in promoting “trash-talk” against opposing candidates. Debates are often digs at the candidate and it is not uncommon for candidates to focus more on the wrongdoings of their opponent, rather than present proactive ways to deal with issues. Through this bombardment of negativity, in the end, some voters might not even be clear on the positions of each candidate. So instead, they stay home on Election Day and focus on something more pleasant.

These are among the many reasons why people choose not to vote. Other less common reasons people said they do not vote range from forgetting, bad weather and no transportation. In the United States, the 2016 presidential election should be interesting depending on who wins the nominations from the primary parties or if a third party candidate emerges that is strong enough to contend. With Donald Trump potentially in the mix, love him or hate him, his presence does have the dynamic to change how elections go being people from all political spectrums are liking his ‘tude. Earlier this year the New York Times reported, “Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.”

Do you agree? What do you think are the reasons why people don’t vote on Election Day?


Additional sources:

Why People Don’t Vote

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