Voting Turnout In The United States Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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Voting back in the 1800s was limited to white men. In the late 1900s voting rights slowly began to garner attention and people started to protest. African Americans and women protested for their right to vote and eventually won the right. Now in 21st century, voting doesn't seem that important to us anymore. Citizens are not voting as voting turnouts are decreasing in local elections. If only a select amount of citizens vote, the question becomes: Can democracy be sustained? Should something be changed in order for voting turnout to increase or should voting be eliminated altogether and be decided for us by higher officials? Voting turnout is very crucial in our society and people are taking it for granted as there are many consequences to low voting turnout.

In the 2012 Presidential Election, voting turnout in most states was not impressive. In the states that carried the most electoral votes and registered voters such as Florida, California, and New York, the voting turnout didn't even pass 75%. Florida and California had roughly 71-72% voting turnout and New York had a very low 60%. Voting turnout in some states such as Indiana, Virginia, and Kentucky went below 60%. Two states did have an impressive showing to the voting turnout though. Colorado had 95% of their registered voters actually vote and Wyoming actually had a showing where their voting surpassed the registered (Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections)

Voter percentage seems to be on the decline as the years go on. The 2012 election had a majority of states in which their voting turnouts were lower than in the 2004 election. For example, one of the crucial states for campaigning candidates to win, Texas, has their voting turnout dropping eleven percent from 2008. Other states such as Vermont, Maryland and South Carolina also saw decreases in voting turnout. According to the American University analysis, Hurricane Sandy not only impacted peoples' lives but also the voting turnout as well. New York saw a fifteen percent decrease in voters casting ballots and New Jersey faced a twelve percent decrease. (Election 2012)

So what are the underlying reasons for people being unable or unwilling to take time out of their day to cast their vote? There are many factors that contribute to the excuses that citizens make as to why they are unable to vote. Some of them are work, location, and eligibility. Some people work at night and others have obligations to fulfill so they would not have the time to cast their vote. Location of voting centers can also be difficult for citizens that are too far away from them, especially for the disabled and sick. Another reason as to why people don't vote is the belief that their vote won't count or that they simply do not like the two candidates (Seven Reasons Why Americans Don't Vote).

Aside from the excuses made from the general public, data gathered by the Bureau of the Census reveal that there are several noticeable trends that may influence voter turnout such as age, education, income and race. According to the census, the older the citizen, the more likely they are to vote as sixty percent of citizens at the age of 65 and over voted in 1990. Education also plays a role in voting as sixty three percent of people with a college degree voted in 1990 showing the chances of voting increases with education. Citizens with higher income are more inclined to vote, as thirty one percent of people earning less than $10,000 yearly voted compared to fifty nine percent of people earning $50,000 or more. Surprisingly the length of residence can affect voting; according to the census, "those who have lived at their current address for 5 or more years were more likely to vote than those who have lived there for under a year (58 versus 22 percent)"(The Decline in American Voter Turnout).

With voting turnouts at an all-time low, there are consequences that will come with it. With less people voting, it seems impossible that democracy can be sustained. People are not letting their opinions be heard so it's hard for the government to be run by the people, if the people aren't even speaking up. In some states, the voting turnout was below 60%, which is not only barely over half the population eligible to vote but also an inaccurate representation in terms of the will of the people. Had a bigger percentage of people voted, the numbers could have swung towards the other candidate which is extremely important. Given the underrepresentation in these noted states, it's hard to discern whether or not the selected candidate is truly representative of the country's desires with respect to political goals and perspectives on significant, trending issues. Due to the nature of some states carrying more electoral votes than others, it is crucial that these states are represented as a whole because these states are the deciding factors of who, out of the two candidates, becomes president.

Voting is something citizens should be proud of doing. It's not every day that you can go out and voice your opinion, so there should be no reason why you can't do it once every four years. It doesn't even take less than one minute to cast your vote and there are multiple ways of casting your vote. Despite the convenience of voting, the voting turnout still remains low as people continue to use excuses as to why they cannot vote. Voting should always remain as a political procedure in the U.S. as it allows us to voice our opinion, but we have to make changes if we don't see an increase in voting turnouts.

There are two ways that could essentially fix this situation. One way is to require citizens to vote. This way, every citizen will be able to voice their opinion whether they like it or not. This ensures democracy will be sustained but citizens will feel that it is an intrusion by the government on their rights to establish mandatory voting. Another way is to take away voting and let higher officials make the decisions for us. If voting turnout is going to steadily decrease, the citizens' voice of opinion will start to mean nothing so higher officials will have to take over. We will have no opinion on any issues, but higher officials will be able to make the educated decisions. The Electoral College will be able to decide who the better candidate out of the two is and we won't have any say in it.

Voting is one of the rights that we as Americans have taken granted for. Back in the 1800's, only white men were allowed to vote and only slowly, did women and African Americans get the right to vote. Eventually, every citizen of the U.S. over 21 was allowed to vote. Now, here in 21st century, the importance of voting has dwindled and we are faced with a problem. Voting turnout has decreased as the years go by for the presidential election and the countries are not being represented as a whole. If only 50% of a state voted, the other 50% is practically unwilling to represent the state. Something needs to be changed in the voting system whether it is encouraging people to vote or forcing them to vote, but we cannot have voter turnouts continue on a decline.

Wilson Ma

Political Science

Works Cited Page

"Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - County Data." Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - County Data. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. <http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/data.php?year=2012>.

"Election 2012: Voter Turnout Shaping up to Be Lower than 2008." KNXV. N.p., 07 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

"The 7 Reasons Most Americans Don’t Vote." Zen College Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012. <http://www.zencollegelife.com/the-7-reasons-most-americans-dont-vote/>.

"The Decline in American Voter Turnout." Www.census.gov. Bureau of Census, Nov. 1991. Web. <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/other/SB91-23.pdf>.



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