Civil engineer Jim Allerton of Seattle didn't vote.

"It's just sleazeball A or sleazeball B," he said.College student Jennifer Toledo didn't vote.

"I don't believe in Santa Claus. I don't believe in the tooth fairy. I don't believe in politicians," she said.

Food service manager Jim Madzinski didn't vote.

"Honestly, I'm not registered," he said. "The last thing I want to do is get pulled in for jury duty."

These Americans were among the estimated 110 million adults who sat out Tuesday's election. They far outnumbered the 76 million who voted.

Were they sending a message?

The experts aren't sure. Some see anger in the low turnout; others just see indifference.

Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, who provided the turnout estimates, said voter turnout rose "in places where there was something important to decide."

In places where the public saw only messages framed by political consultants and sensed that nothing real was at stake, turnout was down.

Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas political scientist, read it somewhat differently.

It's not that non-voters are turned off, Buchanan said, but that they are untouched by government.

People are more likely to tune in when a president is being elected, Buchanan said. Turnout always rises in presidential years.

But Buchanan says it is wrong to assume that non-voters share similar reasons for their failure to vote.

Some are kept away by barriers such as registration requirements and poll closing hours, he said.

Some feel impotent, frustrated, certain their vote can't make a difference.

And some, especially young adults, 18-24, feel politics simply has no relevance to their lives.