This book addresses the issue of why 51.2% of the population of the USA failed to vote in the November 1996 presidential election. Through polls and studies conducted in the spring and summer of 1996, the contributors set out to answer the following questions: what were the 51.2 percent doing that day? Who are they? Why didn't they vote? The results are summarized into five types of nonvoters: doers, unplugged, irritable, don't knows and alienated.

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Three of the nonvoters we followed represent a segment of the voting-age population that has sparked considerable debate—those who are of voting age but cannot vote. Most statistics on voting trends include these nonvoters in the voting-age population, although some critics say they should be excluded, which would make the nonvoting trends less ominous.

Peter Bruce, a research analyst at the University of Connecticut's Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, wrote in the October/November 1997 issue of The Public Perspective that including those legally excluded from voting inflates the voting-age population by 10%. If they were excluded, he wrote, 54.5% of eligible voters cast ballots in 1996. But Curtis Gans, whose Committee for the Study of the American Electorate's figures are the most ...

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