Abstaining from voting (or just plain not voting) should be seen as a message.
Abstaining would probably fall more into the conscientious objector camp, while not voting falls into the apathy camp.
Either way, it points to a flaw in the system. However, since the 60s, voter turnout hasn’t always quite been in decline. It dipped during the 80s, and is now in the mid 50% range. So, historically speaking, people for the past half-decade have had a similar level of interest in voting. Even though our party system and campaign process is utter shit, it’s been that way for awhile…nothing particularly new there.
When we compare US voter turnout to other countries, we look much worse. Sampling countries with non-mandatory voting shows us Austria with 92% turnout, Iceland 89%, German 86%, Brazil 83%, Norway 81%, Israel 80%, UK 76%, and even our favorite lazy, no good country France with 76%. The 50-60% of US looks pretty poor, especially for the country founded on democracy while Europe was still tinkering with monarchy.
People are lazy across the board. I think lack of participation in voting points to issues in the system.
I don’t vote, because I have never found a presidential candidate worthwhile. I believe I’ll vote in local elections, but to date, I’ve moved almost yearly, and never in the same town, so have never been much for learning all a town’s politics on short notice. Someday, I’ll get there…