As one of the most divisive and least predictable campaign seasons in memory came to an end on Tuesday, millions of Americans from all walks of life took part in a time-honored national tradition: They did not vote. Some people were barred from voting by law, and others were effectively blocked by the obstacles put up by new restrictions or stalled by the memories of bad experiences the last time around. For others, child-care and work demands proved too difficult to juggle with going to a polling place. Some decided not to cast a ballot on principle. But there were plenty who just could not be bothered with the whole business. “Part of it is laziness,” said Charlene Petrillo, 47, standing behind a meat counter in Lake Geneva, Wis., and acknowledging that she had been stirred by campaigns before, like President Obama’s, but had never actually gone through with the actual voting part. “I don’t want to stand in line with a hundred thousand people.”
Eliza Holgate, 19, who watched her first Election Day as a potential voter come and go from the gallery of purple-glowing beds at Golden Tan, in a mini mall in Draper, Utah, explained the scheduling issue: “I’m at work all the time.” Ms. Holgate is from a family of politically engaged Republicans, and her mother had been after her to cast a ballot. She wondered herself whether she would regret not doing so. But still, she had made up her mind. “I don’t want to be a part of it,” she said.
To some degree, this is fully predictable. In recent decades, 40 percent to 50 percent of eligible voters have failed to turn out in presidential election years. Given this campaign season, where new depths were always found to plumb and old standards to undercut, this relatively low turnout seemed likely to hold.