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Study finds who will vote and who won’t

Voting behaviors predicted by stress levels.
Voting behaviors predicted by stress levels.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos(dot)net, used with permission

There are external barriers such as transportation and voter identification that influence how individuals vote in primary elections, but a new study found an internal barrier that may be just as influential. While this may not be surprising to most people, it can predict who votes and who don’t. According to a press release on June 24, researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha found people with high levels of stress were the least likely to participate in the voting process.

The study measured individuals’ cortisol levels via saliva samples and found people with high levels of cortisol were least likely to go to the voting booth. Normally, there are biological markers to influence inherent behaviors such as political attitudes and social interactions, but this study is evident of the stress influence. The author of the study explains the cortisol levels in the body have long been associated with social behaviors, thus engaging in the voting process. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is detectable under high levels of stress.

The biological factor of stress predicting who will go to the voting booth is just one factor in the amalgam. The study reports there are other copious factors in voter-turnouts such as social and demographic variables, as well as the political issues via legislative measures. Presently, voter participation is considered low at 40 to 60 percent of the eligible voters.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the legislative measures are intentional barriers to restrict voting. This practice can target certain populations. African-Americans, the elderly, students and the disabled could find voting difficult from these political barriers. The practice of the political barriers to voting is referred to as voter suppression. One controversial legislative measure that restricts voting participation is having to possess an I. D. issued by the government to be eligible to vote. These political barriers can also contribute to the stress levels of voting.