1 Dr Ruth Fox observed that “voting levels are a manifestation of the bigger problemof disengagement across the board, linked to a declining sense of the efficacyof politics generally and their role in it, and a sense that the parties areall the same, the politicians are all the same, they are not like us, it doesnot make any difference”.
The second of my proposed explanations for declining levels ofvoter turnout is the fact that the public no longer sees the value in voting, believing that their votes will not make adifference. For example, in the last election, the Greens and UKIP had significantsupport and under a different system would have 85 seats. In reality, they won 1seat each, so, when people see that a significant percentage of the electorate arecompletely ignored, they give up on voting. PARAGRAPH 3: VALUE OF VOTING The first of my proposedexplanations for the decline in voter turnout is the public’s political disengagementand dissatisfaction.
The BritishAcademy stated that “British society has become, for the most part, disengaged withpolitics…In the case of British voters, it is important to understand the scaleand depth of their disenchantment”.PARAGRAPH 2: POLITICAL DISENGAGEMENT AND DISSATISFACTIONA democratic country is defined as “a country that holds universal adult suffragenational elections regularly and is described as ‘free’ by the Freedom House”1…reducing from 75.3% in 1987 to 68.7% in the UK in 2017, sufferingsubstantial dips throughout this period, for example, in 2001, voter turnoutdropped to 59.4%. The same thing can be said for other democracies.
Forexample, voter turnout in the US during Mid-Term Elections has decreased from60.89% of registered voters voting and 41.07% of voting age voters voting in1986 to 54.16% of registered voters voting and 39.51% of voting age votersvoting in 2014. The same cannot be said for Presidential elections, where wesee an increase from 76.98%/56.28% voting in 1988 and 78.
76%/60.52% voting in 2016.However, the most recent statistics do show a decline from 2004 onwards.PARAGRAPH 1: STATISTICS ON VOTER TURNOUT/ WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?Over thepast three decades, voter turnout in the UK and other democratic countries hasdecreased significantly, I will discuss what I consider to be two of the mostimportant explanations for this decline in voter turnout in three democraticcounties.
The explanations I have chosen are political disengagement anddissatisfaction and the reduction of the value of voting. I have chosen thesedue to the fact there is significant empirical evidence supporting bothexplanations, as will be explored below. The countries I will consider are the UK, the US, and New Zealand. I have chosen these countries as they areconsidered to be three of the most democratic countries.
New Zealand scoringthe highest out of the three on the Democratic Index at ranking at number 4 andscoring 9.26, the UK ranking at number 16, scoring 8.36 and the US ranking atnumber 21, scoring 7.98.
The slight gaps between these countries may allow meto explore whether the level of democracy (each country’s scores on theDemocratic Index) also has an impact on the level of voter turnout. The firstpart of this essay will explain some statistics regarding the levels of voterturnout, following this, I will discuss the idea that political disengagementand dissatisfaction could be considered one of the most significant contributorsto the decline in voter turnout and how the depleting value of the vote cancause people to refrain from voting altogether.