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November was a win for American retail. For American democracy? Not so much. Only half the number of people who stormed brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday voted at the 2014 midterm elections. Although 7 percent fewer shoppers wrestled one another for bargains Hunger Games-style, according to the National Retail Federation, the 133.7 million-strong turnout kept tills ringing to the tune of some $50.9 billion. By comparison, only 76.9 million people, or 36.4 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots on November 2. The last time participation was so low during a midterm cycle was in 1942—smack dab in the middle of World War II—when 33.9 percent of the electorate exercised the privilege.

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But could the disparity in numbers be a result of bad timing? The Pew Research Center tracked down 18 registered voters who didn’t vote this year to ask them about the reason behind their absence.

More than half of the group, or 35 percent of the total, said that dueling schedules with work or school kept them away from polls. Another 34 percent said they were too busy, were sick, out of town, or simply forgot. Twenty percent said they disliked the candidates, weren’t informed enough to vote, or couldn’t care less.

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Making Election Day a national holiday or legislating flex time for employees might help boost participation. Still, considering a quarter of all Americans admit to working over holidays, as reported by U.S.A. Today, it remains alarming that we’re more concerned with snagging a deal on a flat-screen TV than appointing the leaders of our country.

[Via Mic]