In the 2016 presidential race, some supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are saying "Finally!" The two outsider candidates are drawing support from people who feel like this is the first race with candidates who aren't afraid to speak their minds.
But do mold-breaking candidates like Sanders and Trump solve the non-voter issue? Not exactly.
According to Shearer, 40 percent of Americans don't vote.
There's no single reason why people abstain from voting, Shearer said: "Non-voters are not a monolith." Instead, a number of factors are at play. Some may have never voted, some may not consistently vote.
"One of the things that's very clear about non-voters is that they don't believe they're being heard," said Shearer. They're also younger, and more likely to be less educated and less affluent.
"If we think about that, if they participated, politicians would adjust their messages and their proposals," said Shearer.
Ellis added, "Research shows that politicians pay more attention to the preferences of those who vote than those who don't. The effects are small, but we know that voters get more of what they want from their representatives than non-voters."
Though the issue of non-voters has garnered a lot of attention in the presidential race, Ellis said, it should be considered a factor for congressional and local races as well. People's lives, he said, are much more affected on the day-to-day level by city and state officials.
"If you could get more non-voters voting in congressional elections, that's where laws are made, and it would be really interesting to see how the face of Congress might change," said Shearer.
For the full discussion on non-voters with Christopher Ellis and Ellen Shearer, use the audio player above.