Political Participation And Voting

Voter turnout is at an all-time low. And the issue is now being recognized on a national level.

The federal and several state governments have invested millions in ad campaigns and other strategies to spark an interest in



voting, none of which have been effective as of yet. Frightening statistics regarding political participation have been produced by almost every state in the union.

The issue of voter turnout is becoming more and more apparent with last year’s gubernatorial election in New York State. New York City had the lowest turnout of voters for the last seventy five years with a turnout of 21.3, which is only slightly lower than the state average of twenty seven percent (Jahr 1). It appears that generations following the baby boomers are progressively less likely to vote, with millennials or “generation Y” being the least likely to participate.

A recent study by American University found that millennials feel “as though they don't have an effect on elections” and that “they hold no power.” This is troubling and coincides with the decrease in government approval that more recent generations have been speaking about. So perhaps the way to reinvigorate the polls is to reinstate a sense of nationalism, which is nonexistent in the majority of America’s youth today.

The issue of voter turnout has been recognized by most state and local governments in the United States and by President Obama himself saying that it is “While the President’s musings are constructive, action has yet to be taken by the federal government to rectify this threat to the Union. Advertisement campaigns and case studies paired with focus groups are not proving effective and many political scientists and activists say that more needs to be done.

California has recently made gubernatorial and senatorial elections easier by making voting itself easier. This is done through a new program that allows voters to receive a ballot by mail and return it to a post office or designated community centers like town halls or police stations, These places will then collect and deliver all ballots to counting centers.

Some political scientists and even senators think that all eligible to vote should receive a registration card and should be legally obligated to vote under the penalty of law and the threat of fines, but no serious support has been given to this idea of a forced and enforced legal requirement of all those eligible to vote.

Where legal action is always a great way to make things happen it would undeniably be met with claims of fascism and big government.

Interestingly enough our voting system is vastly different from “ This may be the key to voter turnout. Perhaps if the government made it easier to vote, more people would exercise that right. California's redesign of state voting could be an experiment for a federal implementation of mail-in ballots or perhaps, as many younger politicians have suggested, an online alternative to voting in person at a ballot. This idea would be the first implementation of online voting the world has ever seen and could prove vastly effective.

The national percentage of those who vote in a presidential election is only 60 percent of eligible adults. The remaining 30 percent cite reasons like not being able to get off work or being too busy to make it to the polls. Some states in response want to enact a law requiring employers to allow ample time for their employees to vote for senatorial and presidential elections. Should this issue not be resolved we can expect the number of voters to decrease steadily as new generations of Americans with less and less confidence in our system of voting become eligible but decide not to participate in both state and federal elections.

Works Cited

Jahr, Nicholas. "Forty Years of Freefall in New York Voter Turnout." Gotham Gazette: The Place for New York Policy and Politics. Gotham Gazette, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 15 June 2015

"New Ways to Boost Voter Turnout." San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 June 2015.

Black, Eric. "Why Is Turnout so Low in U.S. Elections? We Make It More Difficult to Vote than Other Democracies." MinnPost. Minnesota Post, n.d. Web. 16 June 2015.

Tom Lachowicz
is a second year student at RVCC and the staff photographer for the record. He is a pre-law student and plans to join the U.S Navy after finishing his associates degree at RVCC.