This quote has been attributed to Emma Goldman
and Cousin Woodman
(Either may have coined it; I lean toward Emma Goldman, as she does short, blunt observations well, while the Cuz seems to have longer quotable thoughts), but Jello Biafra
has been known to use it in his spoken word
In Emma Goldman’s instance, this quote refers to disillusionment in the voting mechanisms of Representative Democracy. Emma is an Anarchist, and these funny little people propose direct action over transferal of responsibility to statists; Direct action is one of anarchists strongest policies (and, in fact, defines them).
On top of that, most effective forms of direct action have been made illegal, leaving only the option of a farcical “leader election”. If voting was as effective as direct action, and gave people what they wanted (equal distribution of resources, public health care, friendly foreign policy, blanced trade, etc.), it would have become illegal long ago.
It also reflects (and this is going a little deeper into anarchist ideology) the opinion/fact that the elected leaders are more servants of the capitalistic power structure (the structure itself, if not the corporate special interests), than of the general public. A plethora of human rights and environmental issues (and I use the word "issues" in it’s most horrifying incarnation) stem directly from the giving of individual consent to corporate lackeys to make national policy decisions.
Unfortunately, it just isn't realistic to expect the average voter to spend the time to become more aware of the consequences of representative democracy ; The voter trades the value of common survival for the more tangible value of leisure and consumer goods. That's basic economics.