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If All Your Friends Jumped off a Bridge and Voted, Would You?

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Photo by nicadlr via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

Photo by nicadlr via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
Remember when your parents refused to grant you permission to go to someone's unchaperoned party or on a Spring Break booze-cation to Cancun? "But everyone's going to do it!" you would exclaim, and they would counter with the old turkey about how unlikely you'd be to follow those same friends off some cliff or famous bridge.This is the same kind of peer influence, or, specifically, the lack thereof, that influences voting, according to the Ventura County Star. "Why don’t people vote? And why are there so many folks who vote so infrequently?" asks Timm Herdt.

It's the "buzz" around an election that compels many voters, particularly ones considered "passive," as in they don't vote in every election. More people voted in November 2008 because it was so talked about--not so much the same case earlier this month for the California primary.

It is the same hype and "talked about" quality that drives celebrity popularity, which is why, Herdt suggests, that more people would be likely to turn out and vote if a celeb like Britney Spears (with almost as many followers on Twitter as how many voted in the primary) Tweeted she was heading for the polls.

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The consequences of voting have as much, if not more, impact than those of creating hype about voting itself. "A concerted societal effort to increase voter participation in California is in everyone’s interest," writes Herdt. "It’s time that more people and institutions got involved in trying to create a buzz about voting before every election."

(h/t LA Observed)