September 22, 2008
Paper # 1
Low Voter Turnout in the United States
Throughout American history, there has been a steady decline in voter turnout. Not only has this been â€œhumiliatingâ€ for the United States, low voter turnout has been and always will be a threat to American Democracy. The concept of democracy is dependent on citizens actively participating in elections and voting to select representatives for public office. The government cannot be representative of the people, unless the people elect its representatives. Voter turnout is a major indicator of how citizens view their electoral system, and whether or not they believe that the system is working. There are ...view middle of the document...
Six states have enacted a good solution, same day registration, which has been proven to increase voter turnout anywhere from 10 to 17 percent (Donovan, 182). Same day voter registration allows qualified citizens to register to vote on the day that elections are held. Because many states do not allow same day registration, many Americans do not take the time and effort to register in the first place; same day registration helps to solve this problem. The registration process and electoral system also creates a problem of convenience.
Not only is the registration process inconvenient, Election Day itself is problematic. Election day is held on a Tuesday, impeding the majority of the population from voting due to work-related duties and responsibilities. The solution for this problem is to make Election Day a national holiday. If citizens did not have the responsibility to be at work, they would be much more likely to find time and take the effort to go out and vote. Other solutions have been offered, including: extending the voting period, enacting absentee ballot systems, and voting by mail. While all of these other solutions have made it easier, cheaper and more convenient for citizens to vote, the costs do not fully outweigh the benefits. In any kind of early voting solution, the biggest concern is that early voters vote without knowing all of the significant information needed to make a well-informed vote. Many occurrences and revelations come at the end of the campaigns and can no longer influence voters that have already voted and cannot change their selection.
A voterâ€™s political attitude is the biggest indicator of whether or not he or she will vote. â€œInterest in the election, concern over outcome, feelings of civic pride, and political efficacy [all] affect how people voteâ€ (Wayne, 83). Throughout American history, there has been a decline in partisan identification. Party allegiance is a stimulus for voting. Since citizens are not as loyal to partisanship as they were in the past, they have less incentive to actually go out and vote in elections. â€œAs a group, independents are 12 percent less likely to vote than are strong partisansâ€ (Wayne, 83). Along with the decline in party identification, interest in political campaigns has been declining steadily overtime as well.
In todayâ€™s society, politics is forced to compete with so many other things in the media or at home for peopleâ€™s attention. Media audiences are more interested in human-interest and celebrity stories than they are in politics. Because of this, election coverage in the media has greatly declined. The mediaâ€™s coverage of the election is dominated by the use of negative advertising and attack journalism. The frequent use of negative advertising in the media has played a role in Americaâ€™s declining voter turnout. These negative advertisements repel potential voters; causing them to lose interest in the political campaign. Along with negative...