Nov 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The top reasons people didn’t vote

Reasons given for not voting by registered voters
Data: U.S. Census Bureau, RepresentUs; Table: Will Chase/Axios

Millions of Americans were registered to vote last year but never made it to the polls for a variety of reasons, missing a chance to further boost record turnout, census surveys found.

Why it matters: Voting rights advocates have watched bill after bill fail in Congress. Now, some like RepresentUs, are pushing the Freedom to Vote Act. The group estimates the legislation would make it easier for about 6.5 million people to vote, based on what registered voters said stopped them last time.

  • The two biggest reasons people gave for not voting seemingly defy legislation: a lack of interest or dislike for the candidates, according to the census data.
  • But illness or disability, as well as general busyness, were two other common reasons.
  • Supporters believe the Freedom to Vote Act could help by expanding early voting options and improving accessibility, according to the new analysis by RepresentUs.

What they're saying: "This analysis shows us tangible ways our leaders can and should protect Americans’ freedom to vote," Josh Silver, RepresentUs co-founder and CEO, told Axios. “It’s time for the U.S. Senate to pass this historic and popular bill by any means necessary.”

Between the lines: Many states changed their voting rules last year to make it easier for people to vote early — either in person or by mail — to avoid crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Some states have continued to pass changes to state rules to expand access to different ways of voting and make casting a ballot easier.
  • Others have gone the opposite way, adding steps and restrictions.
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