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Davis Journal

CYCLOPS: The non-voters really decide our elections

Apr 29, 2021 12:22PM ● By Bryan Gray

 If I asked you who determines which political candidates get elected, most would answer “The voters!”  But there is another way to look at it: The people who determine elections are the men and women who DO NOT vote.

Recent political sparks come from Georgia’s and other states’ legislatures attempting to tighten up voting.  To the Democrats, these attempts are a way of preventing many citizens (especially Blacks and Latinos) from having their say at the polls; to the Republicans, tightening up mail-in balloting and voter identification is necessary to stop what they see as election fraud.  Generally, large corporations (Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Amazon, Major League Baseball, etc.) are siding with the Democrats, but GOP leaders are not budging.

No matter which argument you support, it is discomforting to think that a large swath of Americans do not vote. Thanks to two distinct candidates and an increase in mail-in voting, the country saw a record voter turn-out last November, but still about one-third of eligible voters did not cast a ballot.

This was also true in Utah, ranked in the middle of the pack for voter turn-out at barely 69%. The highest percentage turn-out occurred in Colorado and Minnesota, the lowest in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Who didn’t vote? I’ll use my workplace as a snapshot.

I work for a small business employing 15 individuals.  As in Utah generally, the majority voted for Donald Trump.  They had a mixture of beliefs: a conspiratorialist, a colleague who only votes for candidates endorsed by the National Rifle Association, an infrequent voter who believed Joe Biden is “the definition of evil,” one who thinks Donald Trump was a great, successful businessman; one who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, but for Biden in the general election; one who switched from Republican to Democrat this year because he thought Trump’s views didn’t align with Christianity, and a woman who always votes Republican since she fears a socialistic government.

Of the 15, three didn’t vote in the presidential election.

Craig, 43, follows the news and is intrigued by issues, but figures his vote doesn’t count in a Republican-oriented state.  “I don’t like all the partisanship,” he said, “but I’m a peacemaker in my otherwise Republican family, so I never have voted. I support abortion rights and gay rights, and liked some of the comments from Bernie Sanders, so if I did vote it would have been for Joe Biden. And the same goes for my wife who doesn’t vote either.”

Michelle, 23, is a new homeowner who comes from a pro-Trump family. “I don’t read newspapers or watch newscasts,” she says.  “Most of my information comes from Facebook or Instagram; maybe if I could vote from my phone, I might, but it just isn’t important to me because in Utah I know who will win.  But if I had voted last year, it would have been for Biden.”

Roger, also in his mid-20s, had a similar view. Even though he thought Trump was unqualified and “kind of liked” some of Biden’s positions, he decided that his vote was meaningless in a conservative state.  He did, however, vote in balloting for the NBA All-Star game.

Both political parties “chase” voters since most election victories are by less than the 33% represented by those who didn’t mail in their ballots.  The future belongs to the party who convinces these men and women that their voices have meaning.