Margorie Soforenko is talking to a woman to see if she has registered to vote in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Xinhua/Yuan Yue)
Editor's note: The 2016 presidential race is seen by many as the most divisive and scandalous in the U.S. history. A team of Xinhua reporters recently toured several battleground states to get the firsthand accounts of what American voters really think before the Nov. 8 elections. Here is the second of a series of four in-depth reports they have produced.
RALEIGH, the United States, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Margorie Soforenko stood in front of Wake County Courthouse in downtown Raleigh with a clipboard and a pen, stopping passers-by to register them as voters in the Nov. 8 election.
Soforenko, who worked for the local Board of Elections, has worked around the state of North Carolina, helping voters to register before the Oct. 14 deadline.
"I encourage everybody to vote, no matter whom they are for or against," said Soforenko, who considers exercising the right to vote for president an important issue.
Alexandra Prosper speaks with Xinhua in downtown Raleigh. (Xinhua/Yuan Yue)
LOSING INTEREST AND TRUST
Just one block away, Alexandra Prosper was sitting on the bench outside Wake County Justice Center.
"I love my country," said Prosper, who was just released on probation. "But I'm not gonna vote because my voice doesn't matter."
The currently unemployed 28-year-old said she thought Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ignorant and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton incapable of doing anything to benefit people like her.
"I have no faith in our government system," said Prosper. A believer in self-sufficiency, she said that as her efforts "to survive" became a hard struggle, she still did not receive any help from the government.
Soforenko was still patiently approaching every potential voter who had yet to register.
Among the approximately 100 people she managed to talk to, eight to 10 people would proceed to register, and that was on a good day. Many of the rest claimed that they had registered, Soforenko said, but around 10 percent would tell her bluntly that they did not care to vote.
Fifteen minutes' drive away, Carissa Thomas who lives in a well-furbished two-story house in the suburbs of Raleigh, also said she did not plan to vote this year.
"I'm not particularly keen on either of our main candidates, and I know absolutely nothing about anybody else that would have any potential," she said.
"So I don't think I can make an educated decision," said Thomas, who graduated from business school and now works as a sales analyst in a Raleigh-based software company.
Many working people showed even less enthusiasm.
Ten minutes' drive south of Clinton, a small town in east North Carolina, old friends Michael Gainey and Michael Manis were hanging out.
Gainey was a truck driver and Manis worked at a farm. While both were well into their 50s, they both had never voted and did not plan to vote in the future.
"The politicians say one thing and when they get up there they do totally different (things)," said Manis. "They lie, lie, and lie."
In downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, Sam's Club employee Gage Jones, 19, thought he missed the deadline for voter registration. Discontent in working at a supermarket handling storage, he wishes to become a mechanic. It never occurred to him that he would vote this year.
According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, in 2012 presidential election, turnout in 2012 was 68.3 percent -- down from 69.6 percent in 2008. And in the state with the lowest turnout rate, Hawaii, only 44.5 percent of its voters cast ballot for their choice.
U.S. elections had always been troubled by low voter turnouts. Only 54.9 percent of the voting age population turned out to vote in the 2012 elections for president and U.S. representatives, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The tide is not expected to turn in this election cycle, either.
Photo shows the North Carolina State Capitol in downtown Raleigh. (Xinhua/Yuan Yue)
Many voters, including Thomas, had believed that the media failed to inform the American public. "There is nothing substantial about the news I'm receiving," said Thomas.
"It isn't journalism. It's entertainment," said Max Arkan of Wilmington, North Carolina, noting that he once watched a TV news channel skipping Clinton's former rival Bernie Sanders' speech to televise Trump's empty podium for almost half an hour.
A recent Gallup poll showed that the American people's trust and confidence in the mass media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly" has dropped to its lowest level in its polling history starting from 1972, with 32 percent saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.
Many believed what was deemed key to an informed public -- civic education -- was also crumbling down.
According to a national survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, only 36 percent of Americans could name all three branches of the U.S. government, while 35 percent could not name a single one.
The study also found more than half Americans do not know which party controls the House of Representatives and Senate.
NBA legend turned activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stirred up a national debate earlier this month during an interview with the National Public Radio, arguing that ill-informed voters should not vote.
"I think people voting in the blind are doing a disservice to our country by not being better informed," Abdul-Jabbar said.
NEGATIVITY AND UNPOPULARITY
U.S. presidential election campaigns have become more and more negative and provided less and less concrete policy issues, many noted.
Thomas said there was always the news "Hillary was caught hiding 15,000 emails again, or Trump said something outrageous."
According to a study conducted by the Washington State University and the University of Nottingham, given the news media's institutional bias toward conflict, they are particularly likely to focus their coverage on negative advertising.
Many voters said that it has become a vicious cycle, where they were turned away by the media's negative coverage of the presidential campaigns, and then become even less informed about current situations of the election cycle.
What they felt left were only fragmented impressions of both candidates, without any understanding of concrete policies they proposed.
Quite a number of voters interviewed by Xinhua in battleground states said they have voted in the past elections, but they don't plan to vote for either Clinton or Trump.
Clinton and Trump are both the most unpopular major-party presidential nominees in recent U.S. history. On battleground turf especially, the majority of voters interviewed by Xinhua -- almost seven out of 10 -- said they liked neither of the two candidates.
Thomas voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, but the negativity this year had thwarted any intention of hers to vote.
"If we are only voting to vote, but don't really know why I'm voting, then what's the point?" she said. (Reporting by Li Changxiang, Yuan Yue and Li Ming; Editing by Zhou Xiaozheng, Zhu Lei and Ding Yimin)