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Voter turnout has great significance because higher turnout gives greater legitimacy to the upcoming government. Even dictatorial regime maneuvers to attain higher turnouts for claiming legitimacy. American democracy, a role model for the world, is suffering from this serious flaw of character. Factors responsible for low turnout are a matter of controversy among political scholars. The problem has the following psychological, cultural, and institutional dimensions, among others.
Psychological factors: The voter loses interest in election when his confidence is shaken by leadership going back on the election promises. During elections, when he is given “the audacity of hope”, promise of “change” and “agenda of peace”, he naturally pins great hopes on the next government. At the end of the day when he gets nothing of what he was promised, he develops a mindset that leadership has betrayed him and is not sincere to the nation. Government policies not reflective of his wishes make him lose confidence in the system. Corruption scandals may dishearten him and create a sense that voting is nothing less than wastage of time, especially in the younger generation.
Cultural factors: “U.S is the world’s oldest democracy and a pioneer in extension of the vote to the entire population” (Ladd, p417). Despite this democratic culture and attaining the target of universal suffrage, still there are problems that obstruct higher turnout. In a multicultural and multilingual country like US it is difficult for political parties to engage all sections of population. Negative campaigning and attacks on character of opponents is more common in US than elsewhere which potentially suppress turnout. Strong party affiliation is important to boost up turnout which is non existent in US. Countries where parties have strong roots in public and enjoy public confidence have higher turnout. Confidence in election process and voting are cultural habits
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