Although the 2016 U.S. presidential election is still seven months away, already there are some voters who say that they plan to sit it out—meaning they don’t plan on voting at all. On average, voter turnout in past presidential elections has been only slightly above 50 percent; and in off-year elections, no better than the low 30’s. What this shows is that half of all registered voters don’t vote; and others who are eligible to vote don’t even register. You can tell the people who don’t vote. They’re the ones complaining the loudest when the wrong person gets elected.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth. —Abraham Lincoln
In a democracy where “government [supposedly] is by the people, and for the people” you’d think that the people would take seriously the right to choose their own government, and not leave it up to a handful of special interests. Special interests can influence elections more easily when voter turnout is low. Shamefully, the U.S. ranks lower in voter turnout among other similarly wealthy countries, There can be no question that a healthy democracy needs all of its citizens to exercise their vote.
Most democratic governments consider participating in national elections a right of citizenship. Some consider that participation at elections is also a citizen’s civic responsibility.—IDEA International
Belgium and Australia lead the pack of some 22 countries where voting is mandatory. Unlike in the U.S., if you don’t vote in one of these countries, you face a fine or stiffer punishment. That’s how serious they are about voting. Having compulsory voting laws has increased voter turnout in these countries. Considering the pros and cons, could compulsory voting also work in the United States? Has it ever even been suggested to solve America’s chronically low voter turnout?
As compared to countries with voluntary voting, participation rates are higher on average where voting is mandated, especially where abstainers can be sure that their non-participation will be punished.—Shane P Singh
Americans are no strangers to complying with things that are compulsory. It’s not like we don’t already have mandatory requirements like paying taxes, obtaining a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle, tests for certain occupations, renewals for permits— to mention a few. And if a law could be passed to make health insurance compulsory, why not voting? The benefits could outweigh the liabilities such that—
voters become more engaged when a compulsory voting system is in place. This also means that political parties and candidates can focus on addressing their main issues, such as overall government direction, rather than campaigning for voter turnout.—apecsec.org
This 2016 presidential election campaign has exposed the political system in America for what it is— dysfunctional and out of touch. And yet, the political establishment will tell you things are just fine the way they are, the way they’ve always been. As much as the notion of change has failed us in past elections, we can no longer ignore the fact that the union is in trouble if we, the people don’t rise up to demand real change starting with voter reform.
A true democracy should encompass: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections, the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life, the protection of the human rights of all citizens, and a rule of law.—Kelsey Ziomek
Commit. Register. Vote in November. It’s the only way this democracy will work.
Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.—Franklin D. Roosevelt