In this blog we will discuss the question ‘Why do people vote?’
What is a vote?
Voting is a method through which a group can make a collective decision or express an opinion in debates or election campaigns.
There are different systems for collecting votes. In a democratic country, the government is chosen through votes of the people. These people are called voters. In residential places, people living in the same neighbourhood select a representative amongst them by casting a vote, choosing their option amongst a bunch of other candidates.
The system of voting is not new, but has been in use since ancient history. In ancient Athens, Rome, people chose the pope and Holy Roman emperors by casting a vote. In tribes, people selected their leader by voting for someone whom everyone agrees with.
Since the 17th century, electoral governments in the contemporary world made use of voting as a way of mirroring a fair system. In a democrtic state, people above the age of 18 are allowed to cast a vote.
Through voting, the people of the U.S elected their first president, George Washington in 1789, marking the beginning of democracy in the States.
Though there are many types of voting, secret ballots, standing vote, roll call etc, the reason why they are conducted is mostly just one.
The purpose of voting is to select someone who is best for the position he is being elected for. Basically, choosing a winner amongst a bunch of other people who are running for the same position.
Why do people vote?
Voting is a universal act. People of all ethnicities and genders vote in different electoral campaigns to show support to the candidate they prefer. Though the way one votes is usually the same for everyone, the reason why one votes is different.
Reasons for why people vote can be as follows:
- Exercise power- Voting gives one the power and autonomy to project his views and preferences to the world. Someone who is given the right to choose one from a bunch of other people gives him a sense of superiority, making him feel as if his decision matters the most. This is because even one vote can completely turn the direction of a candidate’s victory. That is why the slogan used in all election camping states ‘every vote counts’ or ‘your vote counts’, because it does.
Additionally, voting is seen as an act done by adults. This is because someone below the age of 18tyears is not allowed to vote. Thus, for them voting is something that proves their adulthood to them and others.
- Social factors- Some people vote because of social pressure. If the majority of people he knows is voting for a specific electoral campaign, he feels pressured to do the same. This is because he doesn’t want others to see him as different.
Others vote as an act of altruism. For example, voting for a friend in order to help him win or for adding your share in your country’s prosperity.
A few might just vote to gain personal benefit from someone winning.
- Socio-economic status- According to a research, wealthy and well educated people are more likely to cast a vote. The reason is, they are well aware of the political activities, the rights of others. In general, they are more socially aware and knowledgeable. The aim of these people is mostly choosing a just and fair system by voting. They know how much difference just a single vote of theirs can cause nationally and internationally. Also, they can judge others more than someone who is not so socially aware, making it easier for them to select the right person.
- Habits- It is assumed that people who are used to voting do it out of habit. One who has been living in the same address for years is claimed to be the one who votes almost in every electoral campaign because voting for them becomes a habit.
- Affiliation- Voting because you’re affiliated with a specific group/person/party/ideology is very common. Many people vote just to show solidarity with their favorites and because they highly accept their views.
They want the party of the person they like and admire to win and therefore, they vote in their favor.
- Some vote because of social pressures. Either their family expects or forces them to vote, for a particular person/party or the society demands it. Thus, one is forced to vote in order to maintain his position within the society.
These are some of the many reasons people vote. Though voting as it seems to be is not so positive or advantageous.
Why don’t people vote?
On one end, many people exercise their right by casting a vote, however some don’t. This is because they see the system of voting as disadvantageous or harmful for the society or themselves.
Few of the reasons can be as follows:
- To them, voting is a way by which people are given a false positive picture of how the society functions. Voting gives people the image that they have an important role in democracy and voters are the real power holders because they choose, for example the government in democratic elections.
In reality however, the government is the one who oppresses its people and exercises power over the voters.
- Some people believe that voting doesn’t add to the benefit of society, nor does it help in electing the right person. Because of the fact that voters are forced by society or the person itself to vote for a particular person/party in the elections.
- Additionally, people fear choosing the wrong person by voting. Therefore, they don’t vote at all in the act of not causing any disadvantage to society because of a single wrong vote.
- Ethnicity, class status, age and gender also play a significant role in casting a vote. For example, women in some countries or areas are not allowed to vote, nor are blacks in specific places.
The poor are deprived of their right to vote by the more powerful ones because they fear they might lose control over them.
People weigh the pros and cons of voting by using Parallel Processing Psychology.
Above, we have answered the question ‘Why do people vote?’ and also the reasons why one doesn’t.
Titles to read
- Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote
by Veronica Chambers and The Staff of The New York Times
- Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide
by Michael J. Knowles
- Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy
by Tiffany Cross, Leon Nixon, et al.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the purpose of the popular vote?
Popular vote is the total number of votes casted for a candidate in the 50 states of the U.S. Someone who gets the most votes in presidential elections for example is elected as one.
- What is the importance of the election?
Election gives people the right to vote and select their own government. This keeps a demeoctraic country functioning normally. Elections are also seen as a fair system of selection.
- Why does the by-election occur?
When the incumbent resigns, dies or becomes ineligible to continue his role, by-elections are then conducted.
- How does a person get elected?
Someone who is running for a position alongside other people are elected through voting. One who gets the most vote is elected.