The recent French election showed an 86% voter turnout rate! Our last presidential election here in the good old USA had a turnout of just under 50% of eligible voters. This is a tragedy considering how many people have given their lives for the right to vote – and how many have given their lives because of how our last vote turned out. While we say we are working to promote democratic governments throughout the world, why aren’t we doing more to make it easy for people in our own country to vote?
According to studies by the League of Women Voters, the biggest reasons for not casting a vote are the feeling that voting doesn’t matter and the fact that people have other obligations such as work, school, or child-related obligations.
For the very populations who feel their votes don’t count, a case can be made that if they got together and every single person actually exercised their right to vote – as well as running candidates that speak for the people – they would finally have that political clout. Voting blocks matter. Not voting (and not running) only perpetuates the feeling of being unrepresented. When you don’t vote, you ARE unrepresented.
But the main thing is that people – no matter what part of the political spectrum they are from – deserve greater access to the polls. The way it is right now, we have limited hours on one day – a weekday when many are working – and even if people can find time to get to the polls, often the lines in certain areas are so long that people just can’t work it into their other obligations. And so…many people, especially working people, don’t get to vote. That sucks.
France, as well as other countries, have weekend voting. Other countries also offer more than one way to cast your ballot.
So why can’t we add at least one weekend day so that people who work can vote? For instance, what about changing our voting to Saturday through Monday, which would allow for all religions and most variations of work schedules? This isn’t the only possibility, but it’s a good starting point for discussion.
In addition to more days, there also should be more access. Expanded days shouldn’t have to cost us big dollars to pay for open polls. Maybe only one or two days of open polls and a week leading up to that for mail-in votes or special state-of-the-art machinery. Let’s think differently. What about using ATMs or other such widely-distributed machines WITH RECEIPTS to register our votes? While online or other forms of mechanized voting scares us because of tampering possibilities, there is no reason we can’t figure out a way to create a secure online and/or phone voting mechanism, maybe with built-in audits to help assure us. And definitely a paper trail!
We are able to create the most complex and fabulous technology. Why can’t we find a way to make it easier to vote?
These are only some of my ideas. I know if we started talking about it and made this a real focused effort, we could figure out ways to make it possible for us to get to 86% too! Why should the French be better than we are at exercising an essential democratic right?
If you are interested in increasing the number of days as well as means of access, let your Congressperson know now! Why have we accepted this for so long? Less than 50% is a disgrace. And lord knows we’re paying the price for it.
Make your vote really count. Fight back and demand greater access so that every citizen has an equal opportunity. The only people who are against making it easier to vote are those who benefit from limiting the vote. Don’t let them get away with it any more!
Please let me know your thoughts. How would you make it possible for more people to vote securely? How do we go about changing something that’s clearly broken?