In summary

CalMatters talked to a handful of the 4.3 million Californians who chose to sit out this year’s election to find out why, given 17.8 million set a record by voting in November. Gabe Kim, a college student at Humboldt State, said he doesn’t feel ostracized for not voting.

Gabe Kim is 21 and a student at Humboldt State. He said he didn’t think his vote would make a difference.

I didn’t vote.

There were a few things going on, one was laziness and another reason is that I realized, yeah sure, my vote matters a little bit, but it’s not going to affect the outcome of the election one way or the other.

Most of my friends and family voted and they probably did for Joe Biden considering the overwhelming amount of people that swing that way. 

I don’t feel ostracized in any way because I didn’t vote. You know, if I were to sum it up in one sentence, I just really didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like it mattered and that there is no reason to go out and expose myself to other people during a pandemic.

I kind of have been in a downward spiral this semester when it comes to a lot of things. I think the pandemic really has caused me to feel isolated because I can’t go to school and I can’t do this or that and I just figured, why go out and vote and expose myself. And I didn’t really understand the whole mail-in ballot thing.

So it was a number of things, I don’t think I could point to only one specific reason that caused me to not vote. 

I mean, is it a bad thing I didn’t vote? Umm, maybe some people would say that. But for me, even when I did vote two years ago… I didn’t know who was doing what. I didn’t really do my research. 

Gabe Kim, a student a Humboldt State University. Photo courtesy of Gabe Kim
Gabe Kim, a student a Humboldt State University. Photo courtesy of Gabe Kim

When I voted in 2018, there was a lot of stuff to go through. You weren’t just voting for the top dogs, you were also voting for things within the county and within the state and the different levels of government. I got overwhelmed and I mean, I don’t know exactly who is the best candidate for the position or whatever. 

If I were to have voted, I would have voted for Joe Biden, but a lot of the stuff that politicians talk about are very broad and I don’t really involve myself in politics unless it directly affects me. Something like student loan debt or something like that would encourage me to go out and vote more. 

If politicians were to come down to my level and do things that appeal to me, that directly affected me or related to me, not just broad things like whether or not we are going to be in the Paris Climate Agreement or the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

These things matter and I understand that, but they’re not really affecting me. 

This coverage is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. In California, CalMatters is hosting the collaboration with the Fresno Bee, the Long Beach Post, and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

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Freddy is a reporter at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.