Voter turnout sees extreme highs and lows

Unless you have lived under a rock since 1900, you might have heard something about these things called primaries and caucuses. You may even know how they work and which candidate is ahead. However, the number of people voting in the primaries, and in elections in general, is surprisingly low.

The Pew Research Center published that the U.S. voter turnout for the past elections “trails most other developed countries.” And they aren’t wrong; the U.S. voter turnout for the previous presidential election was just barely above the 50 percent mark out of all 241 million people eligible to vote in our country.

Most people, including the Minnpost, pin it to three key issues wrong with our process. First, voter registration is left as a personal responsibility to each citizen. In other words, our government does not go out and hunt people down if they are not registered to vote.

Furthermore, most elections are held on Tuesdays. No one really wants to put their work on hold and go stand around and either stand in line for an hour to vote in their local primary or listen to a bunch of strangers argue your ear off at a caucus; thus, people do not.

And lastly, voting is voluntary. As an American citizen, you are not required by a law of any sort to vote. That means you could lay at home and do nothing on an election day, and no government body can punish you in any way.

Have you voted in the primaries if you are eligible?

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But the real concern among political scientists is whether or not voter turnout will ever improve, contingent upon the new generation of voters (e.g. all of the seniors that will be 18 before the next election) which to many, looks grim. USA TODAY wrote an article where many adults ages 18-27 “dismissed the idea that casting a ballot is likely to make a difference.”

There might be, however, a tiny glimmer of hope. After the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary, the Washington Times posted voter turnout numbers. Over 737,000 people voted in the election which dusted the 2008 number of 603,000 with a 20 percent increase. And it was not just South Carolina that set record numbers, but in both other GOP elections in Iowa and New Hampshire. But that was the GOP. The Democratic primaries have dropped significantly in the number of voters since the previous election; 33 percent to be precise. Following Super Tuesday, these numbers held true with the Republican party having almost double of voter turnout from the previous election and democrats down almost across the board.

At this point, you are probably thinking to yourself: Ok, great, there are flaws in voting in America. So what? The truth is that when almost half of the eligible citizens are not voting, then the whole point of democracy is defeated. By not voicing their opinions on the state of our country, voters not only show a lack of patriotism and initiative, but then the election isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of America as a whole.

I’m going to end this with a nice, little public service announcement—vote. It is important. Compared to other countries, we are terrible in that we do not have everyone participating, and voting is truly the center of democracy. The statistics don’t tell the whole story, so vote! Even if you do not care, it is your obligation as a United States citizen.