Voter Apathy and the Role of the Media

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Voter Apathy and the Role of the Media "Vote early and vote often". At the time these words were first uttered they were meant as a joke. Today, however, they are anything but funny as the number of people registered to vote seems to drop every time an election draws near. Anytime an election comes around one is sure to hear about the effect voter apathy can, and sometimes does, have on an election. But what exactly is voter apathy? What causes this strange phenomenon? Is there anything that can be done about it and if so what? These are the questions that will be explored, and hopefully answered, within these margins. Voter apathy is basically when one does not utilize their constitutional right to vote for whoever they feel is the best candidate in any given elected position for one reason or another. These reasons are many but, for lack of time and space, not to mention the already decreasing attention span of modern Americans, we will concentrate on what I feel are the big two. In my opinion, the two biggest factors that contribute to voter apathy in America are: 1) The media's insistence on covering the candidate's personal lives and all of the garbage that goes with them as opposed to reporting on what a particular candidate brings to the table; 2) The general publics willingness to accept this as the standard by which a candidate should be judged. These two obviously go hand in hand so this is almost a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" scenario. Let us first answer this question and in the process maybe some other key issues will come to light. In order to do this, though, we will need to start at the beginning. In early campaigns, voter turnout was scarce just due to the fact that only white males were allowed to vote. These men were usually wealthy, well educated, and had at least a working knowledge of the way politics and society worked. As the country grew, however, so did the number and diversity of those allowed to vote. This new group of voters included women, the poor, and minorities. These newcomers to politics were obviously not as informed as their white male counterparts, who had been voting for some time now, and because of this they turned to the print media for help.

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