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Low Voter Turnout - Essay Example

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Thus, it came as a surprise when the 2001 and 2005 elections voter turnout statistics was announced.
In the 2001 General Elections, voter turnout fell to a historic through of 59.4 percent followed by a slight increase of 61.3 percent in the 2005 elections. The 2001 results alone sent shockwaves throughout the British media and the political system. In a 2004 report by baston and Ritchie for the Electoral Reform Society entitled 'Turning Out or Turning Off', the authors opened with a note that the turnout of 3 out of 5 electors was the worst in its post-war record. The last time that the turnout results registered this percentage was in 1918 where many of the registered voters were just beginning to return after the end of World War I. For the first time since 1923, the total number of those who did not exercise their voting rights was larger than the number of voters that determined the winning party. Knowing all of this statistics, the British political system became worried and there was much generated fanfare. The main concern over the 2005 elections was not who won for what seat. Instead, it was how many cared to participate in the elections.
Why is it that British voters are not turning up in polls There are different, though not necessarily unrelated, theories explaining this social phenomena. Voter turnout is considered to be an index which can be used to assess the state of democracy in the country concerned. A decline in voter turnout can be considered as a decline in democracy. It can indicate that the political system is becoming authoritative and imposing such that the people are dissuaded or inhibited in exercising their voting rights. The legitimacy of the government is put into question because the decrease may imply lack of representation of certain groups. (Rose, 1997)
Another plausible explanation is that it is due to the dissatisfaction of the voting populace in its political system because it may have conducted itself in a manner that goes against the values and beliefs of the country. For example, the politicking could have gone so intense that several more important issues have not been addressed. Another possible scenario is that corruption may have been so rampant that trust levels of voters have declined no matter who is put into office. Nonetheless, the study of Inman and Andrews (2009, p. 25) of Senegal and its voting process, they found out that corruption could actually lead to an increase in voter participation as long as the process is fully democratized.
The 2004 Eurobarometer poll (cited in Baston and Ritchie, 2004) provided evidence in the notion of dissatisfaction of voters with their political representatives. Data generated from the poll indicated that the British public no longer demonstrate high levels of interests nor trust in the political system and the politicians. Only 19% of the sampled population stated that they 'tend to trust' the British government. In addition, only 10% also positively replied when asked if they trust the political parties. The 19% is the same percentage that ...Show more


Historically, the post-World War II UK General Elections voter turnout fell between 70-80 percent of the associated voting population making it one of the highest politically engaged nations in the Western world trailing only Italy and Belgium. In comparison, the United States of America tended to have a maximum of 50 percent voter turnout only…
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Low Voter Turnout
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