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Social Media Impact on Voter Turnout Essay

Why Voter Turnout Is Essential

People have to make their choices day by day, and each decision plays an important role in their lives. However, there is one type of choice that is crucial for every person. It is called an election, a decision-making process that is taken by an adult population to choose a person to a public office. There are many different aspects of elections that have to be under control and analyzed to achieve the required results. Voter turnout is one such aspect.

It introduces the percentage of voters, who can influence the results of the elections. Each country has its demands in regards to eligible voters, still, there is one point the role of which remains to be unchangeably important in all regions – social media. The evaluation of voting as a rational choice made by people with specific social preferences and concerns about their social welfare will be developed to explain the factors that give people the incentive to vote and prove the possibility of social media to increase voter turnout.

Voting turnout is essential for elections because it shows how many people are eager to vote and what can make them choose this or that candidate. As a rule, low turnout is undesirable for the world of politics because it signals about the indifference of people on what happens in the world and their country, in particular. If voter turnout is low, it means that people need additional motivation and explanations to attract more attention to the idea of voting and its importance.

For example, several years ago, Smith and Foster (2012) offered the idea to introduce the day of elections as a national holiday that could be celebrated every four years. Such a solution could help to get people interested in the polls and make them believe in the worth of the offered activity.

Still, elections should be regarded as entertainment only. It is necessary to take serious analytical steps to improve the situation and understand what can influence the rates of voter turnout and why turnout is crucial for the world of politics. The investigations of Schulman (n.d.) show that lower turnout can be explained by the requirement for voters to register before the actual elections. Americans have to pass through several stages to get access to voting. They have to re-register each time they move, register 30 days before the elections, and take several additional steps that allow them to participate in elections. Some Americans just do not have time to pass through all those formalities.

What Does Rational Choice Theory of Vote Say about Voter Turnout

There are many people, who are ready to vote even if they know that the probability of their votes is rather small. There are several investigations based on the peculiarities of voting behavior and its connection to the rational choice theory that helps to comprehend the factors that cause voting (Gelman & Kaplan 2008). The main idea of the rational choice theory is about the opportunity to make logical decisions that help to achieve the greatest benefit or satisfaction with the decision made.

In other words, the rational choice theorists try to use the economic approach to the world of politics to achieve the benefits and investigate the motives, beliefs, and needs of people involved in a voting process (Eriksson 2011). The rational choice theory is the framework that aims at analyzing social behavior and identifying the determinants of the people’s choices. In this project, the goal is to understand what makes people vote, and if social media may increase the voter turnout.

Nowadays, many factors may influence voters during the election processes. People pay their attention to such issues as background, political identification, past performance, and the possible influence of political views. However, if a single voter was asked about their true intentions to vote, the answers could be diverse indeed: some people could talk about their deep interests in politics, some people might be eager to choose a right person to lead the country (if presidential elections were evaluated), some people could underline the idea of their patriotism, and some people might just say that it is their obligation, and they could not neglect it (Rolfe 2012).

Each time after presidential elections take place, analytics and theorists try to offer their explanations and evaluations of the events that have recently taken place. They investigate the factors that make people vote, analyze the conditions that could increase or decrease their intentions to participate in voting, and suggest their ideas on how to improve the results during the next elections. Leighley and Nagler (2013) identify several demographic characteristics that are taken into consideration when people get involved in election practices: education, income, age, gender, maternal status, and ethnicity.

For example, older people are more eager to vote in comparison to youths. Therefore, many political election campaigns try to identify the age of their potential voters and develop campaigns regarding their potential voters’ preferences.

The majority of rational choice theories of elections introduce a mixed picture concerning turnout, party competition, and the decisions made by voters (Bendor et al. 2011). Voter turnout has to be increased, and social media may be regarded as one of the possible sources to attract more people and underline the importance of voting for people.

How Does Rational Choice Theory’s Assumptions of Utility Relate to Social Media and Turnout

Taking into consideration the fact that nowadays several people are fond of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sources, the impact of such a source can be observed in the world of politics as well. Many researchers and journalists try to understand if there is a relation between social media and voter turnout (Levine 2014; Markoff 2012; Sedghi 2015). The conclusions of their studies vary.

For example, Markoff (2012) admits that the effect of social media remains to be measurable on voter turnout and mentions the existing connection between the online world and the real world. Besides, it is hard to check if the information offered online is true or not because the majority of social media sources are declared as apolitical (Levine 2014). Many Twitter users are uninterested in political discussions and refuse the idea of political content on their pages. Therefore, it is hard to believe that social media can influence and lead to positive results and increased voter turnout.

In general, though many young people tend to think that their decision to use social media may influence their votes (Sedghi 2015), the results of the studies and research prove that social media can hardly increase voter turnout. People may believe in their connection online and try to share their political thoughts. Still, today, it is hard to prove that online voting and online political discussions can help to underline the importance of voter turnout in different parts of the world.


Bendor, J, Diermeier, D, Siegel, DA & Ting, MM 2011, A behavioral theory of elections, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Eriksson, L 2011, Rational choice theory: potential and limits, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Gelman, A & Kaplan, N 2008, ‘’, VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal. Web.

Leighley, JE & Nagler, J 2013, Who votes now?: demographics, issues, inequality, and turnout in the United States, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Levine, P 2014, ‘Social media hasn’t boosted young voter turnout’, The Washington Post. Web.

Markoff, J 2012, ‘’, The New York Times. Web.

Rolfe, M 2012, Voter turnout: a social theory of political participation, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Schulman, M n.d., ‘’, History Central. Web.

Sedghi, A 2015, ‘’, The Guardian. Web.

Smith, RC & Foster, M 2012, ‘It’s time to make election day a national holiday (once every four years!)’, Huffpost Politics. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Social Media Impact on Voter Turnout." September 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-media-impact-on-voter-turnout/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Social Media Impact on Voter Turnout'. 1 September.

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