Non-voters: What are their concerns?

Voting has been a hot topic in America for the past year, whether it be the mode of voting, long waits, or voting fraud. Among all these things, people still vote to express their opinions. As we have seen, many community organizers try to encourage people to vote. How do we even begin to view their concerns?

Do they care about their civil duties?

As we consider how to understand non-voters, we must not look at them as a conglomerate. I have decided to look at each racial group separately and comparatively look at their concerns.

There are significantly lower rates of voter participation in lower tax brackets, presenting an exciting problem because frequently, these are people who need the most help. I have chosen to focus on these lower tax brackets to give a voice to their concerns. Also the data shows that people in these lower tax brackets are the ones who believe that elected officials have no impact on their lives. Elected officials make campaign promises that they believe that they can deliver yet, after failed promises, it makes sense that people lack faith in the officials they elect. Therefore this is the first step to understanding non-voters.

How each racial group views the impact of their elected officials.

Just because people do not vote, we shouldn’t discount their value of participation in their duties as Americans. Every group finds that it is essential to participate in the American political system. Especially Black people value the typical American responsibilities (i.e., voting) of the US system more, interestingly, than any other racial group.

This shows the value of participation to each group. For example Black people find it important to participate in their civi duties.

Despite this finding, Black people didn’t think that this past election was all that important. There are a couple of reasons that can point to this finding. In the same vein, Hispanic found that this election was crucial. Although they didn’t see as much value in American duties, their importance of this last election falls above the data’s mean.

Shows the importance of the 2020 election.

White non-voters also presented an interesting case, they don’t think it is as important to participate in their roles as Americans — a contrary narrative to the one shown in the media. Also on par with their feelings about this last election. They fell below the data’s mean behind Hispanic and Mixed non-voters. I believe the media’s focus skews towards the middle to upper-middle-class White voters offering a viewpoint that doesn’t represent the average White non-voter, especially the lower-middle to the lower class.

How do they feel about the government?

Voting is the way to express your opinions but also to see people like you in the government. Non-voters, on average, particularly Hispanic non-voters feel like they are not represented in the American political systems. A concern backed by facts — currently, Hispanics make up about 19% of the US population, but they only make up about 9% of the House of Representatives. Alongside this in the same vein, White non-voters don’t see the representation of themselves in Congress. Despite 77% of Congress being White, I believe the income class’s dissection has exposed the holes of representation’s meaning. Representation doesn’t only mean racial representation but also seemingly the tax bracket matters as well.

This shows how much a group feels like they lack representation.

If we cannot see ourselves in our representatives, can we trust them to have our best interests? The data tells us that the lack of representation breeds distrust in the government, specifically among Hispanic and Black non-voters. Both groups fall well above the average doubt experienced among the groups. Although Black representation in Congress is now on par with the Black population in the US, lower-class Black non-voters don’t trust the government. Most likely because many of the representatives, such as Cory Booker, are not representative of the average Black experience, especially since the median Black income is lower than every racial group mentioned in this post.

How much mistrust does each group have towards the government.

On the flip side, though White voters feel they lack representation, they still have higher trust than every other group. I might attribute this to the commonality of values among the racial group, increasing their trust in the government.

How do they feel about the voting process?

Non-voters often experience trouble voting, which discourages many voters from even going to polling centers. Black non-voters find it especially difficult to vote the most alongside Hispanic and Other/Mixed non-voters — a finding which is on par with the media reporting and community organizers. The data shows a very big disparity compared to their fellow White non-voters. With the long waits at polling centers and mail-in voting procedures, this past election was a poster child for the lack of access to voting.

Which groups don’t experience voting bias (suppression).

Despite the difficulty vote most people still make an effort to exercise their right to vote. We have all heard it before, voting bias at the polls. Though some people pass this off as a rare occurrence, the data shows the opposite of this finding. Black voters are most likely to experience voting bias at the polls than any other racial group, which is a big discouragement for a non-voter. Voting suppression is an issue that has plagued the American election process since the beginning of this republic. The parameters to exercise these biases have ranged from deadlines, regulations (i.e., Georgia’s law that prevents water and food distribution for voters inline), or identification barriers. Voter suppression is not monopolized by Black voters but Hispanic and Other/Mixed voters also experience it at much higher levels than their White counterparts.

How much mistrust each group feels about the Election process.

Beyond these two issues, do non-voters even have faith in the voting system?In short, the answer is no. There is a great mistrust in the current voting system, specifically among Black, Hispanic, and Other/Mixed groups. With beliefs about corruption about the votes in this last election only discourage the feelings of already disenfranchised voters and even moreso non-voters. With voter suppression, many might even believe that their votes can be thrown out, so why would they take the time to vote. With the Black, Hispanic, and Other/Mixed persons experiencing a higher rate of voter suppression, it breeds the mistrust we see towards the voting system that they are being pushed out of.

What can we do to address these concerns?

There are two main ways that we can begin to address these concerns. Every group is concerned with their representation and feels like their elected officials do not impact their lives. To address this, all groups will value outreach from their officials. This outreach is even more important for White non-voters more than any other racial group. Outreach can span from forums and facetime with their elected officials. Ordinary Americans want this facetime to feel like their elected officials hear them. Alongside this, the importance of finding information of their elected officials from unbiased sources is important in this outreach so non-voters can get more insight into their representatives.

Lastly, people want the institution voting to change in our countries, such as simplifying the regulations pertaining to voting like identification methods, voter registration deadlines, and making Election day a national holiday. More importantly, to get non-voters to vote, we need to rethink the way we vote. The conversation that has already begun, maybe we can begin voting online or even an expansion of mail-in voting. Alongside the same vein, there are simple fixes that non-voters want to see, like decreased wait times and longer poll hours.

Non-voters should also be seen in our political system. Just because someone doesn’t vote doesn’t necessarily mean that they voluntarily want the exclusion from our country’s conversations.

Sources

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/01/28/racial-ethnic-diversity-increases-yet-again-with-the-117th-congress/
https://econofact.org/voting-and-income
https://github.com/fivethirtyeight/data/tree/master/non-voters

Hi, I’m Janice. I’m a student at UPenn studying Business Analytics and Italian Studies. I’m interested in racial equity, politics and mental health