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Texas Politics - Voting, Campaigns and Elections
Turnout across election types Turnout across election types
4.    Explaining Voting and Non-Voting

The particular distribution of non-voters only tells us who doesn't vote. The next step is to explain why they don't vote.

For instance, simply getting to the polls on election day may be very difficult for 18-24 year olds because they tend to have lower rates of car ownership. Meanwhile, 65-75 year olds tend to have both cars and the option to vote at any time during the day. Race tends to be reflected in educational opportunities, and education is critical to sorting through all the issues and candidates.

These explanations might seem commonsensical; or perhaps there might be other explanations for why some of groups vote in relatively low numbers. To understand why many of us don't vote, it is necessary to examine the general logic of voting, and then the specific organization of elections in the United States and Texas. This includes looking at three critical areas:

  1. probability that your individual vote will make a difference
  2. so-called "barriers to entry" - such as the cost of acquiring and processing the tons of necessary political information
  3. effects of the dominance of only two parties in our system

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 115
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