Qualified voters may boycott the polls because they have no faith in the integrity of the polling or election system. Alternatively, they may not vote for reasons of apathy, lack of communication or lack of education. Refusal to vote indicates a certain political instability and the possibility of unrest. It may also lead to dictatorship and extremism, or control by an elite.
115 million eligible voters (almost two out of three) did not vote in the 2001 US elections. Since the 1960s, national voter participation had fallen more than 25 percent, the largest and longest slide in the country's history. Twenty-five million Americans who used to vote chose not to. Young people, together with poor people, have shown the lowest turnout and the steepest decline in participation. Only 20 percent of Americans aged eighteen to twenty-four voted in the 1998 elections. Voter turnout among the young had shrunk from 50 percent in 1972 to 32 percent in 1996, when. fewer than half of the eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds had even registered to vote.