I wrote this to someone in response to them saying that low voter turnout was because of American laziness:
“While some of what you said may be true, the real reason why there is low voter turn out is because some citizens simply can't afford to vote, as a vast majority of voting municipalities the day to vote is historically a Tuesday, a workday.
The US was an agrarian society at the founding, so having voting mid week wasn't an issue. Sunday was a day of rest, and Monday was needed for travel to the voting booth.
But America today is a different landscape for workers—in a culture where Americans get little time off, whether it’s to vote or do anything else. Forty-two percent of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day last year, partially because they felt too economically insecure to afford it and partially because many of their employers actively discouraged them from doing so. Meanwhile, 23 percent of American workers did not receive paid vacation time, 24 percent did not receive paid holidays, and nearly 40 percent did not receive paid sick leave.
As a result, a Caltech/MIT survey on voting patterns discovered that three of the five most common reasons given by eligible adults who did not vote had an economic component to them: they were too busy, they struggled with transportation, or they faced registration problems. One telling statistic is that 40 percent of voters reported waiting in line to vote—with 17 percent being forced to wait for more than half an hour. That’s prohibitively expensive in a country where time is literally money.
Not surprisingly, the end result is that low-income Americans turn out to vote in far lower numbers. The U.S. Census found that only 47 percent of eligible adults with family incomes of less than $20,000 a year voted in the 2012 presidential election, compared to 80 percent of those whose earning exceeded $100,000. Overall, only 19 percent of likely voters come from families with incomes of less than $30,000 a year, even though that same group comprises 46 percent of nonvoters. Bottom line is that people can't afford to vote.
Childcare costs, leaving work in the middle of the week is too expensive for many people. Very very sad. Effectively disenfranchisement.