The number of registered voters in California is at a record high. Even among those who are registered, many choose not to vote.  KCRW asked why:

For Paul Corning, a 27-year-old actor who moved from L.A. to New York a couple years ago, today is just another day. Well, he’s starting a new job, and he’ll be preparing a monologue for an audition on Thursday. But none of those involve voting.

He’s voted before, but he says this time around, it doesn’t feel right. He feels like he’s relatively well-informed, but he just doesn’t care which party wins. “It’s been like a sport for me that I didn’t want to participate in rooting for a team in,” Corning said.

That burst of civic pride a lot of us feel when we hand in our ballots – an estimated 46 percent of eligible voters, nearly 90 million Americans, won’t have that experience.

“Unfortunately a lot of people get caught up in the idea that what they’re voting for or who they’re voting for has to 100 percent represent their views,” says Jennifer Waggoner, president of the League of Women Voters of California, a group that works to drive up voter participation. “And if the only time you engage in the civic process is around an election, that’s a really big order.”

Waggoner says voting is just one step in the political process. But it’s a complicated step, and people who get turned off by it, end up feeling left out of the process entirely. She says the average citizen is overwhelmed when they open their sample ballot.

“I don’t know about you, but even when I get that, it’s so thick and so dense, that I kind of sign with exhaustion. So imagine if you’ve never voted before, you never talk about voting with your friends and family, and you get this giant book. It’s pretty intimidating.”

Waggoner tells people: “Look. It’s not a test. You don’t have to fill out every question. You can even bring notes with you when you vote. But then there are those who feel perfectly knowledgeable about the issues. It’s the framework they don’t like.”

Chris Prieto, a 34-year-old portfolio manager in Santa Monica with a Libertarian streak says his three big issues are civil liberties and foreign and monetary policy, and neither Obama nor Romney reflects his views. “I can’t vote for somebody that doesn’t share any of my beliefs. And I think voting gives my consent that I believe in this political power structure. Which I don’t.”

Kim Alexander with the California Voter Foundation says she hears that disaffection fairly often, especially from young people and minorities – groups that vote less than the population as a whole. She tells them that voting matters because it helps make politicians accountable to those like you. “And so that’s why homeowners and senior citizens and folks who live in wealthier, more affluent communities may get better representation,” Alexander says, “because they pose an electoral threat to their politicians.”

While there are those who say they won’t vote, there are those who’d like to vote, but can’t. Because they’re incarcerated on felony charges, or on parole. Here’s one, who only identified herself to us as Precious. “If you have a chance to vote but, like someone like me, who don’t have a chance to vote but you do have a chance to vote, and you know somewhere in there it’s gonna count, why not? Why not take the option to do it? Why?”

Advocates for voting have heard every argument against voting. I don’t have time. It’s really inconvenient. I don’t like the choices. My vote won’t count. They say online registration and mail-in ballots help those first two problems. The others can’t be solved on Election Day.

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