Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why So Few Active Voters?

These are pretty interesting articles and discussions.

MinnPost Why do so Few Participate?
MinnPost We Make It More Difficult

It is hard to understand how the voter participation rate can be so so low...

Thoughts?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the form of government we have chosen, the checks and balances thing, tends to make government and therefore voting, less relevant. When your government is unchecked and unbalanced, the stakes on voting are much higher.

--Hiram

John said...

Eric left a good comment.
"Laziness is one explanation for low turnout, but I wonder how much the stakes play into it. Scotland had turnout int he high 80's when it voted on independence, despite reducing the voting age to 16, and I'm guessing few teenagers voted. I've heard anecdotes, and I stress just anecdotes, suggesting turnout shoots up in countries where losing an election means the winning party makes your life hell by putting opponents in jail, taking land, etc. So I wonder if low turnout here is just a matter of Americans seeing little being at stake. That might be a product of any one election affecting just some of those who govern us. We know the Senate will stymie whoever wins the House, the Congress and president will stop each other, the courts will get in the way, and the states of some similar limitations on anyone's ability to do anything.

As much as it pains me that people can't name their congressman, let alone state or local elected officials, I wonder if they're right that it doesn't matter in many cases. Even if my first response to that notion is disbelief, I certainly notice that US House districts are cut in such a way that who gets the most votes is merely influential, not determinative, of who get the majority, and the Senate makes no sense at all when Wyoming's half million people can nullify the votes of California's 36 million. The fact is our modern divisions are primary partisan and ideological, but our government structure doesn't reflect that at all. Maybe we should have a house determined by proportional voting by party, like some other democracies do."

However as I responded, this was on purpose...

"I think you folks are forgetting that technically we are not a democracy, we are a republic.
Dem vs Rep

It is intentional that the folks in Wyoming can stand up to California. It helps to secure our unity."

John said...

I compare this to Iraq where the majority (Shiites) were able to force their will on the Sunnis. Imagine the strife we would have if the East and West coasts could force their laws upon the middle of the country.

Or if the Twin Cities Metro could rule MN, just because people of similar beliefs live there.

jerrye92002 said...

I think voter turnout ought to be far less than it is, considering that the majority lack the information required to properly participate in their own governance. Civics isn't taught in the schools anymore, economics never was, and most news sources seem to have a bias though few even pay attention, let alone think it through. Most elections seem to hinge on who can produce the most negative and deceptive TV ads.

I say people should not be allowed to vote on any office unless they can name at least two of the candidates for that office. Or at least the current holder of the office.

Anonymous said...

I don't think people are lazy about voting. They just don't think it matters very much. And much of the time, I am not sure it does. I am unwilling to criticize people for not voting. If you want them to vote, make sure voting matters. For many people I don't think it does.

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we returned to having the State legislatures appoint Senators if the State races would become more important, if the citizenry would put more effort into local elections. If we knew that a local election could have national and international consequences, perhaps we'd care more. Or not.

Having the States appoint Senators makes a lot of sense to me. Two houses of Congress, one representing the People, one representing the States. I don't know that I'd like the current make-up of the Senate if that were the case, but I'm willing to bet things would be much more interesting.

Joel

jerrye92002 said...

That was the way the Constitution was originally written. Some doofus decided to change it.

Anonymous said...

Elimination of the Senate would be a better idea. The job of the senate initially, was to prevent the abolition of slavery. Ultimately it couldn't do that but it was successful in making sure that slavery couldn't be abolished peacefully.

If you want people to vote more, raise the stakes for voting. Make sure that the winners of election will actually be able to govern.

--Hiram

Sean said...

"Elimination of the Senate would be a better idea."

I hate to say it, but this sort of idea looks better and better all the time...

John said...

I proposed a different view.

People don't vote because they are happy with how things are today, and they believe their is no significant threat to the status quo.

I used the local PTO and School Board as an example. Maybe 3% of parents pay any attention to these organizations until someone starts talking about closing a school, taking away a program, etc. Then people show up in droves.

We live in a great country where things are pretty good for the vast majority of citizens. The Left keeps trying to pull us further Left. The Right keeps working to resist, or pull us back somewhat to the Right. However as long as no big changes threaten, most people are happy, so why vote...

John said...

It is interesting how folks here think that people are unhappy because "their preferred change" is not happening fast enough.

Since we are all relatively politically aware and motivated, I guess that makes sense.

However the reality is that a very large percentage of American citizens are just happily chaotically living their lives in a pretty great country. What interest do they have in rocking the boat.

I am pretty sure my 19 year old is too busy thinking about classes, friends and cell phones to spend much time thinking about politics, voting, etc...

Sean said...

"The Left keeps trying to pull us further Left. The Right keeps working to resist, or pull us back somewhat to the Right."

I think you are characterizing things incorrectly here. "The Right" has clearly moved significantly to the right over the last 30 years.

Laurie said...

Voter Suppression: How Bad? (Pretty Bad)

I only skim read my link but it was enough to renew my disgust with the GOP and their movement to disenfranchise voters

John said...

NC Voter ID

They allow for old folks, natural disasters, out of state ID's, etc...

Laurie said...

If it is all about verifying voter identify why are so many states putting up so many other barriers to voting (i.e reduced voting days, reduced polling locations, long lines etc.) Seems to me we should be encouraging voter participation by making voting as convenient as we can.

How long do you wait when you go to vote? For me voting usually takes about 5 minutes and never more than 10. Would you stand in line for hours? I don't think I would.

John said...

I do agree that keeping the lines manageable is important.

There seem to be games played on both sides of these issues.

Personally I think Liberals should give in on voter ID and start focusing on hours and availability. People like myself have no problem with improving accessibility.

I am still a bit uncomfortable if it is true that some Liberal groups go looking for the totally disengaged to strongly encourage them to vote Liberal. I think voting should be a personal responsibility.

John said...

I mean I have to wonder about the quality of ones position if it requires getting the uninformed and disengaged to for it.

jerrye92002 said...

Maybe I can contribute something here. As an election judge and poll challenger, I have witnessed endless attempts, some deliberate and some unknowing, I'm sure, at voter fraud. I've looked at Minnesota election law, and it actually encourages fraud by allowing college students to double vote. I've watched as our hyperpartisan Secretary of State has altered voting laws at whim, made up recount rules, and failed to do the proper maintenance of the voter rolls, all to advantage his own party. I've analyzed the voting records and found 10s of 1000s of illegal votes, and at least 100,000 questionable ones. I have second-hand anecdotes galore.

We need a positive voter ID system, and a Secretary of State that works to eliminate vote fraud, not aid and abet it. Note that Republicans promoted such a bill a few years ago, that would have used instant ID and cross-checking, plus provisional balloting, to guarantee election integrity. Democrats lined up solidly against it. Why?

Laurie said...

For someone so extremely opposed to govt spending it is odd that you would support the form of voter suppression know as voter ID.

Voter ID Laws Are Costing Taxpayers Millions

jerrye92002 said...

Government is responsible for holding and supervising elections. There is nothing wrong with asking them to do it with integrity and efficiency.

But beyond that, I think it's time we put that "voter suppression" mime to rest, shall we? The reason most voter ID law challenges fail in court is because of the inability of the challengers (Democrats all, for some reason) to find someone with "standing" before the court. That is, their inability to find anyone who was denied the right to vote because of inability to meet the voter ID requirements.

The labels applied tell us much about the motivations involved. Republicans call it a matter of "election integrity" while Democrats refer to it as "voter suppression." Combine the two and it seems the problem is the "suppression" of ILLEGAL votes. So who is on the right side of that question?