Friday, December 6, 2013

Voter Motivation

Voter motivation which is an act of pulling electors to a cause from a micro to a macro level so they can cast their votes still remains an essential factor in contemporary democratic elections. Understanding the philosophy of voter motivation to garner victory can be a vital tool and a way of triumphing over political opponents. In present-day American elections, parties compete to attract as many voters as they can by using all sorts of tactics at their disposal. Cases of voters turned away for failing to furnish birth certificates, identity cards, and other documents demanded by officials manning election stations in various parts of the U.S, pop up in the media now and then to arouse public opinion. Turning away eligible voters challenges the concept of direct democratic participation. Election irregularities are common in almost every democracy mainly due to humankind’s irrationality and hostile responses become part of the ordinary citizens’ ways of voicing political discontent. Some form of racial prejudice surfaced among black and white voters in the presidential election of 2008 when the Republican Party fielded political heavyweight John McCain against the youthful politician and challenger Barack Obama of the Democratic Party such that former president Jimmy Carter, in the glare of the media, came in support of Obama (Paine et al, 2010).

One tactical measure to enhance voter turnout would be encouraging voters to come to the polling stations to cast their ballots. Libertarian paternalism is famous for its self-conscious influencing application that is known as “Nudge” where attempts are made to move people to a certain direction that elevates their living standards without promises of economic incentives attached. In such cases, what is essential for the voter is not concern for party arrangements but concern for policy results (Kedar, 2005). Another important means would be boosting voter education so that people can have understanding of how the electoral systems work. Broad experimental literature is available that document how the ordinary American citizen is ignorant of the policies and the politicians that shape the nation. According to Kaplan (2008), though not an aberration, the number of Americans having significant knowledge of politics is alarmingly low and below the level required for an advanced democracy such as the U.S.

Political science scholars, borrowing a leaf from the application of bargaining theory, often cite the need for the allocation of distributable goods and resources and the examination of institutional designs as factors that alter voter behavior (Kedar, 2005). To the contrary, other political scientists reference proximity theory which is voter endorsement of the candidate sharing similar political views. Regardless of which theory is right, one major aspect that voters put into consideration when voting for a particular candidate, is the state of the economy. According to Hudson (2010), creating better voting procedures has been shown to increase voter turnout. People often vote according to their social and economic statuses. Improved voter turnout can be realized through civic engagement and through empowering citizens to have a say in political discourses. A reduction in adherence to class prejudice and lessening all sorts of barriers that restrict voter involvement should be top priorities for congressional leaders if they are to receive the trust and support of their constituents. Advancing mobile and internet democracy could also be used to eliminate political misconceptions and allow for the retention of diminishing party loyalty.


Hudson, W.E. (2010). American democracy in peril: Eight challenges to America’s future (6th. ed).  Washington, D.C: CQ Press.

Caplan, B. (2008). Majorities against utility: Implications of the failure of the Miracle of Aggregation. Department of Economics, Center for Study of Public Choice, and Mercatus Center: Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Kedar, O. (2005). How voters work around institutions: Policy balancing in staggered elections. Electoral Studies, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Retrieved from

Payne, B.K., Krosnick, J.S., Pasek, J., Lelkes, Akhtar, O. & Tompson, T. (2010). Implicit and explicit prejudice in the 2008 American presidential election. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 367–374.

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