About 90 million eligible voters are likely to sit out the elections this fall, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.
That turnout would be lower than the 2008 election and closer to 2000, when only about 54 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot. That figure includes both registered voters and those who were eligible to register.
Those are disturbing numbers, but the reasons people gave in the survey are even more troubling. People said they were too busy, not excited about the candidates or — worst of all — don’t feel their vote matters.
Of course, the math screams otherwise.
Barrack Obama won the popular vote by a margin of a little more than 9 million in 2008. So, just a fraction of those 90 million people could create a landslide for either party.
All of this comes as states have made it easier to register and generally easier to vote.
So, why are so many people so disengaged?
In the survey, these non-voters give reasons such as “nothing ever gets done,” corruption in politics, no difference between the parties and no impact on their life.
It is easy to understand why people feel that way, but the reality is that government does a lot — for better or worse — and has a huge role in our lives. Moreover, when voters do not pay attention that only increases the opportunity for corruption and the influence of special interests.
What might help citizens see that connection?
Certainly, stronger civic education in our schools and colleges is critical. …
Also, those who are engaged should demand that politicians stop the negative advertising.
Candidates need to detail how they will help solve our problems, not spend millions to demoralize the electorate.
Finally, all of us need to encourage our family and friends to vote and stay informed. We need to help the 90 million understand that “tuning out” is no badge of honor and “tuning in” is what keeps our democracy strong.
— Distributed by The Associated Press