Why People Don’t Vote in America, and will Charlotte follow the National trend?

If I didn’t fall in love with marketing and communications, I swear I would have ended up in politics or economics. Thankfully this blog proves to be a satisfactory method to appease my other interests. 

The Charlotte Mayoral campaigns are starting to ramp up, and since this will be my first time experiencing it, I began wondering how much of a commotion-if any-the elections will make. If Charlotte turns out to be a sample of the national elections, one would expect plenty of bark but little bite. Then again, my mind began to wander and I asked myself: why does America have such a low voter-turnout? A question time and time again no one has figured out a solid answer (besides the easy “no one cares” avenue). I will quickly explore the macro-elections (America) and then dive into the micro-elections (Charlotte).

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. The critical thinking steps that psychologists and other science-based schools of thought follow require one to look at the other end of a situation. Therefore a new question would be: what is America doing that is not stimulating a response from its citizens?

Now that question is a little more interesting to ponder. For now-President Obama and his competitor McCain argued issues that pertain to every American citizen; so why didn’t every citizen make their voice count?

I believe, like many others, that there is no incentive for the majority of the population to vote. The odds of a presidential election being decided by one (or even 100 people) are huge. So it is that the intrinsic reward (the internal feeling of accomplishment) is not there for American society? Could be. But what about the extrinsic reward; isn’t worth getting a pat on the back from your friends when you tell them you voted? Isn’t the “I voted” sticker worth standing in line and supporting your candidate? I can’t answer that, but the overall population leans to no.

With all these behavioral theories running through my head, I then narrow my focus to Charlotte. Smaller population, more communal accountability, and a Gen-Y focused city. Will participation in the mayoral elections surpass the national average? It has all the elements for the conclusion to be so, but I cannot go against my hunch that the minority of the Queen City population will decide the future of the majority. Is Charlotte implementing the right stimuli to produce a response from the majority of its citizens? And are the rewards (and punishments) strong enough to require a response from the people of Charlotte? Once again, I am not qualified to answer those questions, but I can’t go against my hunch.

As the Char-Meck burns through money like a Hummer running on hundred dollar bills, as CMS fires teachers, admin staff and then opens six more schools, and as houses go on the market and there’s no buyer in sight, I think there are plenty of punishment to go around if people don’t vote.

But hey, I’ve been wrong before.




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