voting, welfare, means-tested government assistance, social work, political attitudes, empowerment


When voter turnout of any one particular demographic or social group is significantly less than that of other groups, members of that group lose their power to protect their basic economic and social rights. Low voter turnout among recipients of means-tested government assistance is especially problematic because election outcomes impact the benefits on which they depend. This article presents results from a qualitative study to understand how recipients of means-tested government assistance decide to vote or not to vote. Four themes emerged related to the patterns of voting behaviors and described as: dedicated voter, voter, nonvoter, and dedicated nonvoter. Each one bases their decision-making about voting on different factors. Therefore, a variety of interventions are needed to encourage voting by all. This article seeks to share the voices, experiences, and perspectives of recipients of means-tested government assistance, in order to inform and improve social work interventions to increase voting.

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