Voter turnout in the United States has been relatively low than most European countries. In the 2012 presidential elections, the voter turnout was 53.6 %, which was only better than 2 European countries, Switzerland and Latvia (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adm Pearce). The issue has been viewed by many as weaknesses that need an immediate address by improvising ways that would improve the voter turnout. With increased voter turnout, Americans will exercise their rights in electing leaders, and eventually, democracy prevails. Better representation in the legislative elections would be realized with elected leaders reflecting the voice of all citizens. The presidential candidates, on the other hand, would concentrate in campaigning in all states without ignoring some and making the votes valuable equally over all states. An increase in the voter turnout would encourage more aspirants to vie for political positions such as governor, therefore, giving independent voters a wide range of choice for their leaders other than the traditional ones of republican and democrats. On the other hand, the issue of voter turnout increase has been dismissed by several diplomats and scholars citing that it is a democratic right that one has right to exercise or not. Also, researchers point out that those who do not vote may not influence a significant change on the elected leaders, the only difference would be an increase in the number of votes, but same leaders would be elected (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). Though the growth in voter turnout may not have a universal support from all stakeholders, it is necessary for more democratic leadership elections. A single vote can influence voting results when a tight race between candidates is observed; therefore it is importance to have a high number of voters exercising their rights. Those who do not vote may not necessarily have done so because they were willing but may have lacked time to register, cast their vote or did not know the reason for voting.
The United States should look for ways of improving the voter turnout at all levels for a more democratic leadership to be elected. In a high voter turnout allows citizens to have a leaders of their choice and they feel they belong to the country.
The increase in voter turnout can result from encouraging citizens to register and participate in the voting process (Michelson, Melissa). There has been an increase in the number of black voters in the United States in the latest presidential voting. The change in trend for most black from nonvoter to voters has its roots from the increasing campaign encouraging them to participate in voting by President Obama and Jesse Jackson in their presidential bid (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). On top of political figures campaigns, the churches for blacks have also joined in encouraging them to participate in voting excises. The result of campaigning for voter registration and turnout show that it helps in increasing the number of the electorate during elections. Religious leaders have an influence in what people believe and do as they are seen by many as the voice of their believer. Their participation in encouraging voters to register and participate in voting process may have a significant effect on voter turnout. Politicians encouragement makes citizens feel valued a voters and as a result they turnout out to voice their opinion.
A broad range of days that one can vote can increase the number of voter turnout (Branham, Mary). All states should allow residents to have a chance to vote several days before the voting date (Stein, Robert and Greg Vonnahme). The option allows those who may not make it during the voting day to cast their vote at their convenience. Encouraging states to allow a broad range of days for voting provides voters with a chance to spend less time waiting to vote as one has an option to vote when they find there is no queue in the polling stations (Bergin, Colm). Time spend waiting to cast a vote has been discovered as a factor that influences voters in making their decision on whether to vote or not, with long one discouraging voters (Stein, Robert and Greg Vonnahme). It has been observed that voting before the date of elections has been increasing over the period making it an option that may make the voter turnout to increase. Voting should become open and centralized (Stein, Robert and Greg Vonnahme). An open voting would allow voters to vote from more than one voting location. The method would increase voters turn out as they would not be restricted to one station at the date of balloting. Centralization increases the chances of one voting from wherever they are even if it is not the place of their residence. Openness and centralization have been known to increase voter turnout in states that accepts it.
Options that one can use as method of voting need to be increased all over the country. In the US voting by mail has been accepted for some time, in some states there is permanent mail-in voting such as Colorado (Branham, Mary). In such states, mail voting has accounted for almost 50 % of voter turnout. The rate at which voters participate in the mail voting shows that it should permanent mail voting should be installed in states without it. On top of in-person and mail voting, the voting options should be increased to match the current technology. Most activities such as buying of goods and services, submission of learning material, socializing and banking are done online. Most Americans and especially young people who have had a low voter turnout use the method in their daily lives (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). Voting should be upgraded to accommodate as the online generation as well. Senior citizens who fail to vote mostly because of reduced mobility would have a chance to vote from the increase in the voting options. Online voting would solve their mobility problem, and they would vote from their houses.
An easy method of registering as a voter should be installed (Branham, Mary). These would enhance the number of people able to vote as it would give them time to vote. Voter registration can be made easier by allowing voters to register online and registering as a voter as at the time of getting an identification card. Also, the time used to allow the citizens to register as voters can also be made more flexible and allow registration even at the date of voting (Kowalski, Jacob). Some states have already allowed residents to register during the day of balloting and vote afterwards. The freedom to register as a voter at the same date of voting increases the number of voter turnout in that it does not lock out qualified individuals from voting.
A language barrier can be reduced in the voting process to accommodate those who do not understand the current language such as Hispanics (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). Hispanics have had the lowest voter turnout with a high proportion of them being nonvoters. In increasing their participation, voter language barrier can be reduced from the voting process to allow them to understand the process and consequently increasing their chance of voting. Also, those who do not vote should be made to develop political interest and engagement through being educated on importance of their participation. Having political interest has been a factor that has made many Hispanic fails to vote. In the past, political interest and involvement have been found to make many people participate actively in the voting process (Michelson, Melissa). For example, Hispanics immigrants have a higher chance of turning out to vote as compared to natives because of their political interest as immigrants (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). Also, the blacks after developing political interest and engagement have become regular voters rather than their tradition of being nonvoters.
States can pass legislation making voting for qualified citizens mandatory (Michelson, Melissa). The law has been known to increase voter turnout in many countries such as Belgium and Australia (Parlapiao, Alicia and Adam Pearce). It can make the voter turnout to be very high as compared to the current one. The legislation would face a lot of resistance citing lack of democracy and right for one to choose what they want. But on the other hand, democracy is best-practiced when everyones beliefs are represented in the political leadership. Forcing people to make sure they are represented in the leadership makes democracy better excised as their interests have a higher chance of being presented rather than when no one represents them. Mandatory voting can provide a solution to voter turnout and possibly democracy increase in the United States as campaigns would consider the entire voters regardless of their residence.
Voter turnout in the United States can be increased by taking several steps that have been known to affect voting negatively in the past or have lead to high voter turnout elsewhere in the world. Some of the ways in which voter turnout can be increased can include more flexible voting options, easy registration process, a wider range of days to vote, openness and centralization, improving the voter registration, campaigns encouraging citizens to vote, reduction of language barriers and increasing political interest to voters. Elsewhere in the world, mandatory voting has been practiced, and voter turnout has been very high and the method can also be practiced in the US. Though it may face resistance because of the rights of one to choose if to vote or not, it can enhance democracy of each (Kowalski, Jacob). The above methods can improve voter turnout in the US, though there is no particular way that best suits than the other, a combination of several of them would help solve the problem and also help in reducing possible resistance from those who oppose.
Bergin, Colm. "Five Ways To Increase Voter Turnout". The Irish Times, 2014, http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/five-ways-to-increase-voter-turnout-1.1797546.
Branham, Mary. States Make Changes To Get Out The Vote. 1st ed., Knowledge Center, 2014, http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/content/states-make-changes-get-out-vote.
Kowalski, Jacob. "Opinion: How To Improve Voter Turnout In Elections". The Daily Campus, 2016, http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/2/19/opinion-how-to-improve-voter-turnout-in-elections.
Michelson, Melissa. How To Incease Voter Tunout In Communities Where People Have Not Usually Participated In Elections. 1st ed., Scholars Strategy Network, 2016, https://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/sites/default/files/ssn_key_findings_michelson_on_increasing_voter-turnout_in_low-propensity_communities.pdf.
Parlapiao, Alicia and Adm Pearce. "For Every 10 U.S. Adults, Six Vote And Four DonT. What Separates Them?". New York Times, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/13/us/politics/what-separates-voters-and-nonvoters.html?_r=0.Stein, Robert and Greg Vonnahme. "When, Where, And How We Vote: Does It Matter?". Social Science Quarterly, vol 93, no. 3, 2012, pp. 692-712. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00863.x.
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