Heading into Super Tuesday—the day when presidential candidates hope to rack up delegates from a dozen state primaries—Democratic voter turnout is down. It’s way, way down compared to the 2012 and 2008 elections. There could be multiple reasons for this: Perhaps Democrats just aren’t as excited about their primary choices, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as they were about electing the first black president. Maybe photo voter ID laws are having the pernicious, dampening effect on Democratic turnout that experts have been saying they could have. It could also be that people are increasingly just over the voting process itself, nonplussed by the inefficiency of the act in an era when many data-collection activities are carried out with digital precision and efficiency. Plenty of evidence of this is shown in a survey released Monday by the market research group Edelman Intelligence. After speaking to roughly one thousand registered voters nationwide between January 28 and February 1, the firm found that a third failed to vote in at least one recent election, even though they intended to. Of that group, 45 percent ended up skipping voting because of time constraints—some actually showing up at the polls but leaving because the lines were too long.
Well over half of the survey respondents believed that people in general don’t vote because it can be a real time-suck. Breaking this attitude down by age and race, 63 percent of African Americans, 60 percent of Latinos, and 63 percent of people ages 18 to 34 all had the those same feelings about voting. Millennials and people of color are more likely to vote for Democrats, which may explain, in part, why a candidate like Bernie Sanders is feeling the voter-turnout burn-out. Republicans meanwhile, with their older, whiter voter demographics, are enjoying a voter-turnout revolution.
The survey was commissioned by the elections-technology company Smartmatic, which sells online voting equipment around the world. Unsurprisingly, the findings also reveal a heavy appetite among respondents for election upgrades, like internet-based voting. Even setting Smartmatic’s market desires aside, it’s undeniable that the nation’s voting infrastructure is woefully inadequate. A study last year from the Brennan Center for Justice found that basically every state is voting using machines that aren’t even manufactured anymore. States are attempting to mitigate some of the ill effects of this: Most now offer online voter registration services, and Oregon and California now automatically register all of their residents electronically when they reach voting age.