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Ngozi Ogbeni Political Science 40 TA: Angela Ju 12/1/2012 Why People Vote In many countries, people vote to decide

on public issues. Voting is when a group of people makes a decision on a subject that concerns them as a whole. People ultimately organize to gain benefits for themselves, others, or for those who come in future generations. If there is a group that is a majority with common interests, then there will always be a minority in that group who will have the urge to free ride without actively participating in the efforts to provide a public good. In the case of voting, less people tend to actively participate since they view their vote as more of a cost than benefit to them. Overall people vote based on what they can get in the end of the whole process, and group identification and material preferences make the benefits more meaningful to the person voting. According to Mancur Olson, people with common interests will form collectively to achieve what they want. To quote Aristotle, Men journey together with a view to particular advantage and by way of providing some particular thing needed for the purposes of life, and similarly the political association seems to have come together originally, and to continue in existence, for the sake of the general advantages it brings. Collective action is, therefore, a product of shared interests, the essence of any organization. One muse not underestimate the attraction of membership being a psychological determination in the political process, but it is indeed that which is to be attained that is worth striving. And what better way to acquire benefits than to gain power in numbers?

Ngozi Ogbeni Political Science 40 TA: Angela Ju 12/1/2012 The American Voter proposes a hypothesis about why people bother to vote. It posits that partisanship, a deep psychological attachment to one of the two major parties, reflects a direct causality between that attachment and particular decisions on voting and evaluation of politicians and policies. The impact of party identification is a profound phenomenon. Even if the nature of the issues change dramatically from one election to the next, and perhaps some of the benefits a voter was looking for is actually being represented by the opposing candidate, that will not overpower his or his partisan instinct. To choose a crude example, a diehard fan of a particular professional sports team will support that team even when the other team is actually playing better. Campbell, Converse, Miller, and Stokes were effective at conceptualizing party identification in a useful, objective way. Their research was designed to show that there were relationships in data reflecting the powerful role of enduring partisan commitments in shaping attitudes toward political objects. This strikes close to home, because my father has been voting for Democratic candidates for a few decades, and though he may like some Democratic candidates than others, he does not look to the other side when his interests are not fully represented by the his own party. I was thus able to appreciate his strong devotion for one political group from a very young age. This intriguing hypothesis predicts that even when the interests of a voter are not accurately represented by the current candidate, the voter will still pledge allegiance to his or her party. There is definitely some plausibility to this argument, but it may not be comprehensively true. The hypothesis indeed is explained by the facts, or data collected, so its strength does lie in its objectivity, but other hypotheses are necessary to gain a better understanding of why people vote.

Ngozi Ogbeni Political Science 40 TA: Angela Ju 12/1/2012 One research article on voter participation by Rosenstone and Hansen is a bit more holistic and complex. It seems the nearsightness of the said research on partisanship can be supplemented with the research done on participation, mobilization, and democracy. In fact, people participate in politics for a variety of reasons, not just party membership. For this hypothesis, there is not just one element of causality, but two: personal and political. The authors express a very well formulated expression, Strategic mobilization without individual mobilization is impossible, and individual mobilization without strategic mobilization is illogical. This complexity comes from nothing else but American democracy. Political participation cannot be fully explained by orientation, psychological preference, and natural ability. Voters are mobilized by political organizations seeking power but also reflecting what voters are actually looking for, which are material, solidary, and purposive benefits. There is an underlying reward system that shapes political value systems in voters. Obviously people who have direct stake in political outcomes are more likely to participate and vote a certain way than people who do not have such investment. Also, people who have strong political preferences are more likely to enter politics than those who have weaker preferences. But a voter, of course, must have the resources to become a voter and make evident his or her political ideology. Social networks are there to unify and strategically mobilize their political interests. Without mobilization, more citizens would sink into the quicksand of the paradox of voters participation, according to which, the cost of voting (energy, time, and money spent making it to the ballot) exceeds the weight of each vote. But most voters

Ngozi Ogbeni Political Science 40 TA: Angela Ju 12/1/2012 find voting to be a rational and satisfying activity after being mobilized directly and indirectly by political parties and social networks. The latter article on participation seems to make the more cogent hypothesis of why people vote. There is an inherent causality that cannot be ignored, while the former article, on partisanship, seems to express more correlation than causation, is limited, and the hypothesis lacks ambition. The best thing a citizen can do before he or she votes is to always will to be appropriately informed in a way that is not biased by partisan ideology whilst mirroring his or her political and social interests. The purpose of research is finding the right facts necessary to test hypotheses. The nature of why people vote is complex, at times obscure, but always fundamentally human, as man is a political animal. There is no conclusive hypothesis on why people vote, but it is imperative that research continues to be conducted and citizens continue to consume the information and take that step from paradox to practice, taking part in civilizations blessing which is democracy.