Controversial election season causing voter fatigue

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) –- Election Day is one week away, but the continuous coverage of the presidential candidates has a number of people feeling voter fatigue.

Mikael Pelz, a political science professor at Calvin College, said people feeling exhausted by the stream of candidate accusations and controversy flooding this election cycle are not alone.

Some people claim they don’t plan to vote due to all of the coverage.

“This election season has been really bitter,” said Pelz. “We have two candidates that people don’t necessarily trust.”

He said that if people don’t trust the candidate, the strategy often turns to trying to dismantle their opponent’s credibility.

“In this election, the candidates are trying to make the other person seem like they are less competent and so the rhetoric is not very positive for voters to really feel good about politics.”

Pelz said that negative dynamic is part of what’s wearing out potential voters.

The high volume of elections in the U.S. is also a contributing factor to voter fatigue, Pelz explained. He told 24 Hour News 8 another big contributor is the fact that it’s nearly impossible to escape conversations surrounding candidate scandals and new accusations.

“My timeline is always filled with election season posts and kind of people’s opinion,” said one Calvin College student.

A few more people on campus echoed her statements, as did Pelz.

“You’re bombarded by the people around you that you experience this personally,” said Pelz. “Unlike a lot of elections where we can disagree on this policy or that policy, we’re really disagreeing on whether or not these people are good or moral.”

Pelz said there’s also been a number of late “surprises” this election cycle, but he warns voters to make sure any new information is relevant to whether a candidate is fit for president or not.

Voter turnout is usually between 52 and 55 percent, according to Pelz.

“If we have voter fatigue and people stay away from the polls, that means that turnout might be even lower and then we have to ask ourselves – do we truly have a democracy if only half of the electorate turn out to vote?”