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California Voter Participation Survey

Survey Highlights

 

Incentives for Voting

Get-out-the-vote messages: The message “Voting is an important part of being a good citizen” resonates strongly with infrequent voters. 76 percent said they strongly agree with this statement; overall, 93 percent agree. This was especially true of Asian Pacific Islander (API) and Latino infrequent and nonvoters, indicating that potential voters who are immigrants or whose families immigrated are more responsive to citizenship as a motivating factor in voting.

The message “Voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and your community” resonates strongly with both infrequent voters and nonvoters. 93 percent of infrequent voters agreed with this statement, with 74 percent saying they strongly agree. Among nonvoters, 81 percent agreed, with 55 percent saying they strongly agree.

Reasons for voting: The two most important reasons for voting among infrequent voters are “to make your voice heard/express your opinion” (43 percent) and “to support a particular candidate” (24 percent). These two reasons also rated highest among nonvoters (32 percent and 19 percent, respectively).

Election Day holiday: Making Election Day a holiday is not likely to increase voter turnout. Among infrequent voters, 20 percent said a holiday would make them more likely to vote, while 15 percent said they would be less likely, and 64 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference. Among nonvoters, 16 percent said they’d be more likely, 12 percent said they’d be less likely, and 70 percent said it would make no difference.

Barriers to Voting

Reasons for not voting: Among infrequent voters, the two most important reasons for not voting were “I’m too busy to vote” (28 percent) and “There are no candidates that I believe in” (20 percent).

The perception that politics are controlled by special interests is widely held among infrequent and nonvoters and represents a significant barrier to participation. 66 percent of infrequent voters and 69 percent of nonvoters agreed that this is a reason for not voting.

Work hours: 52 percent of infrequent voters and nonvoters work more than 40 hours per week; 16 percent of infrequent voters and 15 percent of nonvoters work more than 50 hours per week.

Absentee voting: More than half of infrequent voters are not familiar with absentee voting. 50 percent said they had never voted absentee, and 2 percent said they didn’t know whether absentee voting was easy or difficult.

Voter registration: Nearly half of the nonvoters surveyed say they have been registered to vote before, but not at their current address. 18 percent say they thought they registered through the DMV; among API nonvoters, nearly one in three say they thought they had registered through the DMV.

Friends and family: Among infrequent voters, about two-thirds say their friends vote in most or all elections; among nonvoters, only half say their friends vote. 40 percent of infrequent voters and 51 percent of nonvoters grew up in families that do not discuss political issues and candidates. Latino, African American and API nonvoters were less likely to live in a pro-voting culture than nonvoters generally. Among Spanish-speaking infrequent voters, two-thirds say their friends hardly ever talk about politics.

Information barriers: Information comprehension is a barrier for infrequent voters and nonvoters; trustworthiness of election information is also a challenge. Among infrequent voters, 49 percent said election information is hard to understand and 29 percent said it is untrustworthy. Among nonvoters, 39 percent said it is hard to understand and the same number, 39 percent, said it is untrustworthy. African American infrequent and nonvoters are more distrustful of election information than infrequent and nonvoters generally.

Language: The logistics of the voting process were more of a barrier for Spanish-speaking infrequent voters, who cited difficulty in locating their polling places, getting help from pollworkers, and accessing voting materials in their preferred language at a much higher rate than infrequent voters generally.

Sources of Information and Influence

Election information sources: Infrequent voters find local newspapers and conversations with family to be the most influential information sources in helping them make election decisions. The following sources are viewed as the most influential among infrequent voters:

Local newspaper: 65 percent
Conversations with family: 65 percent
Network TV news: 64 percent
Cable TV news: 60 percent
Conversations with friends: 59 percent

News information sources: Infrequent voters and nonvoters get most of their information about news and events of the day from similar sources, with cable and network TV as the most prevalent news sources for nearly half of infrequent voters and 56 percent of nonvoters, followed by newspapers and the Internet.

 

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This page was first published on April 7, 2005 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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