A new poll casts doubt on the conventional wisdom that people who do not vote are more alienated about the state of American politics than those who do.
The survey, to be released today by the League of Women Voters, found that non-voters are no more alienated than voters. It concluded that people do not vote because they do not grasp the importance of elections, they are ill-informed about their choices and they perceive the actual process of voting as difficult and cumbersome.
Asked what they would do, given a choice between voting and taking advantage of a once-a-year sale at a favorite store, 30 percent of non-voters chose the sale compared with 6 percent of voters. Asked to choose between watching a new episode of a favorite television program and voting, 27 percent of non-voters said they would stay home for the program; only 3 percent of voters said they would stay home.
The poll found that voters and non-voters are equally mistrustful of government. Among non-voters, 72 percent said they could trust the federal government to do what is right only some of the time or never. Among voters, the figure was 73 percent.