An intriguing study from Waikato University finds that distance to polling stations affects likelihood of voting. In fact, each kilometre from a polling station to homes reduces turnout by one percentage point.
The researches said that when the time costs of traveling to vote are $10, the national turnout falls by seven percentage points. Bizarrely, those in urban areas need even less distance before they give up the idea of voting. A $10 cost of getting to the polling station reduces turnout by 20 percentage points.
The dissuasive impact of rather small distances speaks volumes about the lack of value people put on voting.
Why do they do this? I’ll hazard a guess. The idea that your vote counts is bunk. Usually, in terms of sheer numbers, your vote doesn’t matter. People know this intuitively. They also “know” that once they’ve voted for a Government, they have little say on what happens next. And they “know” that they’re likely to be unhappy with some of the outcomes of the Government.
By placing a price as low as $10 on the ‘price’ of voting, the Waikato study proves that these factors are considerable.
The lesson is that politicians need give people reasons to vote. they need to work much harder than they think they do, and they need to focus much more on voters than their opponents.