Us Voter Participation

.. ich they comprehend. Many people simply do not understand government process, and therefore choose not to become involved. These types of people are in the same class as those who believe that voting requires some sort of astounding effort, or cost in precious time. In an effort to increase voter turnout, there are a couple of changes that can be considered for the people stated above.

Taken into account that the physical effort to vote is minimal, it theoretically could be made even simpler. The “burden” of registration could be taken out of the hands of the individual voters, and transferred to those of the government via some type of “automatic” registration (just when you thought registering could not be facilitated). This could possibly initiate the most lethargic of all Americans to vote. Mail in voting, or the Internet, could also be feasible, provided that tamper-proof methods are utilized. Also, the fact that elections are held on weekdays can not help the cause. If elections were to be held on a weekend, or there became a law requiring employers to give workers time to vote, as in Canada, there might be an increase in the turnout. Though these issues are somewhat irrelevant, even comical one may add, they probably do play a role in whether some Americans choose to vote.

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The lack of voter participation also involves the concept of efficacy, which undoubtedly plays a role in the minds’ of American voters. There may be a belief that they do not have any affect on the political process. Many are unaware that voting, and other types of political involvement, can actually have an influence on policy making. Yet another factor may be partisanship, which is voter identification with a specific political party. Many voters possess pride in partisanship, and voting becomes a competitive mechanism.

The outcome of an election becomes a personal matter. One theory is, partisanship may be declining. Some possibly feel that candidates no longer represent their respective parties. They feel that Republicans and Democrats have nearly converged on the political spectrum, leaving the differences between them minute, or conceivably non-existent. If a Republican or Democratic candidate is sure to win, and both are the politically equal, what is the point in voting? Another thought provoking motive for involves the issue of trust.

Many people remain pessimistic about the entire political process. They just do not have confidence in the govern-ment or candidate’s ability to effectively govern. On the extreme other hand, the decision to abstain from voting, and from otherwise taking part in political activities, may reflect a voter’s rational judgement that his future is safe in the hands of whichever candidate emerges as winner. Another possible variable is the media and its involvement in politics. What effect does live reporting of election results have on the voter turnout in the western regions the United States? For example, when the final election results have already been tabulated and announced in New York, the polls are still open in California.

Once people on the west coast know who is winning and who is not, are they more inclined to feel they don’t need to bother voting? Granted this scenario can also be reversed. It could be argued that if people on the west coast see that their preferred candidate is losing, they might be more likely to vote in order to show support. Nonetheless, this should be taken into consideration. The media must also make changes in the way it conducts its political reporting and analysis. A cerebral balance must be found between reporting the news, and making the news, as seen with Florida controversy.

Sensationalism and hype have become the new definition of newsworthy, and negativity has become network news. We cannot afford to have this continue. Yet another speculation as to why Americans have such a relatively low participation in politics is call the “sleeping dogs” theory. This states that participation need only be “intermittent and potential” for a democracy to function. Most leaders in a democracy are fully aware that citizens lack a rooted political following. Correspondingly, most politicians will work in an effort to keep the undisturbed public in a placid state.

However, they are conscious that society may become riled by things such as depression, unpopular war, or high unemployment. In this case, the citizens will react by voting them out of office at the next election. Accordingly, officials aim to keep the public tranquil, and are pleased with no reaction at all (Roskin 113.) This underlying rationale is perhaps the most prominent cause affecting voters. In essence, many Americans could simply be content with the present condition of the country, and the how the government is being operated. Theorists state that a democratic culture does not necessarily require heavy voter turnout. “Rather it requires an attitude that, if aroused, the people will participate-vote, contribute time and money, organize groups, and circulate petitions-and that elected officials know this (Roskin 113.)” Considering this, do low levels of participation negatively affect our country? Voting is a right, and is not required in the United States. Citizens who vote are choosing to do so because they want their voices to be heard. And in the case of a representative democracy, the people who vote are the ones who believe that their opinion counts, and will make a difference. This concept is the backbone of democracy, and is what our country thrives on.

For the most part, these citizens are politically informed and educated. A smaller number of these intelligent voters is preferable to massive numbers who vote just for the sake of voting, and have no idea what issues they are siding with. Essentially the right to vote should not be taken lightly. This act should be done intelligently, not randomly. This brings us back to the idea of facilitating the voting process.

Is it really a good idea to make voting easier? We do not want the masses to vote simply because they can easily do so, but to put forth an effort to vote wisely. Many scholars believe that low civic participation is an underlying problem of American social decay. Our nation is too complacent when it comes to political participation. Most citizens are content to sit back and let a few elites decide the direction of our country. The solution is not to just “go out and vote,” but to be an informed voter.

The best way to accomplish this is to teach our children civic responsibility. Interests and patterns developed early in life often carry all the way through adulthood. Teaching young people about our democratic system and the importance of their personal involvement yields powerful returns. Political Issues.


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