New Poll Reveals Why People Didn't Vote in the Election

New Poll Reveals Why People Didn't Vote in the Election


Every year, millions of Americans are discouraged, harassed and even forbidden from exercising their most fundamental right in an electoral democracy: the right to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. 

Nearly half of eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 presidential election across the US, according to data of early turnout rates compiled by the United States Election Project.

It wasn't the lowest turnout in history, though. According to Mashable, about 49% of eligible voters didn't participate in the 1996 election, in which Democratic candidate Bill Clinton beat Republican candidate Bob Dole. Unfortunately, we were close to making history. This could, in part, be attributed to the fact that this election was the first one since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling against the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

RAD CAMPAIGN- Hispanics HarrassmentOne of the top issues we should be considering are the voting experiences that people had during the election. It appears that turnout was lower than the 2012 election, something that doesn't happen very often. From voters who were turned away at the polls to voters who decided to stay home this year for their own reasons, my team worked with the Brennan Center and Lincoln Park Strategies to conduct a poll across several key states where voter suppression is often reported to figure out what was behind this drastic decrease in voters. Check out the data in this infographic.

Here's a summary of what we discovered:

Black voters voted at a higher rate than White or Hispanic voters.

– Millennials and Gen Xers were far more likely to have voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump.

– Hispanic voters were 2x more likely to wait in line for 30-60 minutes or more than white voters.

– 61% of eligible unregistered voters said they couldn't register because they didn't update their address.

Hispanic voters were 2x more likely to be harassed or called derogatory names before the election than White voters.

– Provisional ballots played a large role in the election and were more likely to have negatively impacted Millennials.

– Hispanic voters were 2x more likely to have their eligibility called into question at the polls than White voters.

31% of Americans polled couldn’t get time off of work to go vote.

Our goal was to really look into the causes of people not voting, and we didMy take is simple: I figure that service members and vets risk their lives for us, and to thank 'em, the least we can do is register to vote and then actually vote. It's patriotic, and it shouldn't be hard for eligible voters to do.

The poll was conducted by Rad Campaign and Lincoln Park Strategies in late November and polled 3,050 Americans online and 450 Americans by phone in Texas, Florida, North Carolina,Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arizona, as well as the following counties: Mecklenburg (NC), Harris (TX), Orange (FL), Duval (FL), and Broward (FL). California and Minnesota voters were also polled as control states.

Did you vote in this election? What was your experience?



Frank E. Watkins

In A Democracy…
Voting Is Fundamental

Americans have a right to vote, but it’s a “state right” not a “citizenship right”. In a democracy, the right to vote is a moral imperative, the most fundamental legal right and is protective of all other rights. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) he said, “The right to vote is the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.” Such a fundamental right should be explicitly guaranteed to all Americans in the U.S. Constitution.

Yet, “nowhere in the United States Constitution is there an explicit declaration of the right to vote. Initially the Constitution appears to have left that right up to the states.” (Oxford Companion to the U.S. Supreme Court)

Prior to becoming President of the United States, Professor Barack Obama, as a teacher of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, began each of his constitutional law classes sharing with his students the surprising fact that an “explicit federal individual right to vote” is not in the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution has been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights and 7 of those amendments pertain to voting – 14, 15, 17, 19, 23, 24 and 26 – but none of them add the explicit, fundamental, affirmative, individual, citizenship or federal right to vote to the U.S. Constitution.

Three amendments outlaw discrimination in voting on the basis of race (15th) – the 1965 VRA was the implementing legislation for this amendment 95 years later – sex (19th) and age (26th). A voting rights constitutional amendment would fulfill the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments.

Of the 119 nations that elect their public officials using some form of democratic elections, 108 have the right to vote in their constitution, but the United States is one of the 11 nations – including Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Kingdom – that does not explicitly contain a citizen's right to vote in its constitution.

The U.S. has a “states’ rights and local control” voting system. And since voting is a state right, with virtually no enforceable national standards, we have ended up with multiple and varied election systems in the 50 states (plus DC), 3,143 counties (or county equivalents), 13,000 local voting jurisdictions that administer 186,000 precincts, all organized on what amounts to a “separate and unequal” voting system, controlled and managed by local election officials. Prior to the SCOTUS decision in Shelby, which undermined the most effective sections of the 1965 VRA, 86% of Section 5 Preclearance objections involved local, not national or state, voting issues.

It’s important that a right Americans find to be fundamental is explicitly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution! The Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller ruled that the 2nd Amendment did guarantee a fundamental individual right to a gun. So we have the ironic situation that the world’s so-called leading democracy has the fundamental individual right to a gun but not the fundamental individual right to vote guaranteed in its Constitution.

A “right-to-vote” constitutional amendment is: (a) non-partisan – not Democratic, Republican or independent; (b) non-ideological – not liberal or conservative; (c) non-programmatic – it doesn’t require one to support or oppose any particular policy or legislative programs(s) in order to fulfill the amendment; and (d) non-special interest – it’s application is not limited to minorities, women, labor, businesspersons, lesbians and gays or any other special interest group. It applies to and benefits all Americans!

House Joint Resolution 25 (114th Congress)
Section 1. Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.
Section 2. Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. …. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Al Hayat TV in Egypt, February 1, 2012

“What is striking is the role legal principles have played throughout America’s history in determining the condition of Negroes. They were enslaved by law; emancipated by law; disenfranchised and segregated by law; and finally, they have begun to win equality by law. Along the way, new constitutional principles have emerged to meet the challenges of a changing society. The progress has been dramatic, and it will continue.”
Justice Thurgood Marshall
May 6, 1987 Honoring the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution

Atanacio Luna

My comment was a response to your comment, I forgot the original article and was referring to your comment as a "great article". I did not check you comments, and take them at face value, since I'm just a low level grazer here, but thanks for this informative piece of work. My change of heart, that the electoral collage needs to be eliminated, was finally crystalized by you words.

Hubert Kauffman

Thank you for this informative post. In addition the an amendment to the Constitution that guarantees a fundamental right to vote, I would like to see an election period of two weekend days and a federal set of regulations for voting.

Charles Cloninger

The day we vote should be a national holiday and with strong suggestion by congress that it should also be a nationwide state holiday. Also, we need a federal law that all employees mandated to work, even on such holidays, be given time off to vote. And with a provision that absence from work would cause a hardship or endanger the public (like doctors, police or EMT's) be given either a pass to the front of the line at the polls or the right to vote by absentee ballot. Might greatly reduce the percentage of those whose employer would not give them time off to vote.

Also, going to electing by popular vote rather than by electoral college will increase percentage of those who vote. Many who live in states where one candidate has a massive lead in the polls do not vote as they know their vote will have no effect in their states selection in the electoral college system. For instance I live in Alabama and supported Hillary Clinton. Since Trump was so far ahead in the polls I knew my vote for president would be wasted as the Alabama electoral college members would certainly cast their votes for Trump.

Oddly, why is the selection of our President, highest office in the land and most important office in the world, the ONLY one selected by an electoral college system? Crazy!


The reason we do not do popular vote is so a few states with a majority of the population can not control what happens in the rest of the state's. But is is scaled.. look how many votes California, New York, Florida, and so on get in the Electoral College compared to Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota.

Chuck Hopper

The reasons for the Electoral College are well defined by the framers of our constitution. California alone skewed the popular vote. California does not represent the bulk of our population.

Cricket Wood

Charles, I, too, live in Alabama – the state with the longest constitution in the USA. Amendments don't solve problems. Abiding by existing laws does!
Only those with citizenship should vote. Law REQUIRES workers be given 2hr time off to vote.


Early voting and absentee ballots make it possible for any voter to vote regardless of work schedule.
Having to work may have prevented people from going to the polls on Election Day, but it didn't prevent anyone from voting in the election if they wanted to.
"Hispanics more likely to be harassed or called derogatory names…". I am Hispanic . As a Mexican American I can tell you that being called names is a piss poor excuse to claim that one couldn't vote, even if such harassment and enduring of derogatory name calling actually occurred. Quite frankly, I doubt the varacity of this polls claim that such occurred .


Finally a true post of common sense! I'm with you 100 %, cry babies have gone too far! We need to all pull our big boy/girl pants up and THINK before talking or posting!


It seems to me that it does not mean anything when the popular vote did not mean anything. From now on I will tell my children to forget it. This is the first President in 77 years that I have no respect for and he does not care about people. I predict he will make money while he is in the wh.

Cheryl Harris

I am white, and reading this article, I get so angry thinking about how American citizens who are African American have had to fight for the right to vote and to be considered equal under the law. They should have always had those rights as citizens. Now that the voting rights act has been greatly weakened, their right to vote is again open to attack.

Atanacio Luna

What a great article, I did not appreciate all these details about our constitution and the arcane and convoluted nature of our voting mechanics. The dynamics of communication in 2016, leading to the results, which will probably show regrettable before the election of 2018, even to a significant portion of those who feel vindicated by the surprising results, will demonstrate the need to update this most wonderful foundational document. I argued that the electoral collage was designed to protect the US from abuse by other nations and bad actors, but I now reject that opinion and think the electoral collage needs to go away. It will soon be clear this error of the voting process is too costly to ignore any longer.

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