So how do we get more people to vote???

November 5, 2014 7:16pm
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I think it’s pretty safe to say that when less than half the country can’t be bothered to come out to the voting booths on election day, we have a serious problem with the democratic process in our country because, well, those who actually get elected can’t possibly be very representative when the majority didn’t even vote to begin with.

So what do we do about that?

When I look at the electorate in America today, I think that people fall into one of several buckets:

  • Those passionate about a particular candidate or issue
  • Those dispassionate about the same (where I fell this year)
  • Those who don’t really care one way or the other

That third group is our focus for this exercise because they’re the ones who aren’t coming to the polls en masse, and for anyone who says that their vote simply doesn’t matter, consider the results simply for the governor’s race here in the State of Florida…

Votes for Rick Scott (R) :  ~2,865,000
Votes for Charlie Crist (D) : ~2,800,000
Votes for Others : ~280,000

Governor Rick Scott was able to beat out Charlie Crist and keep his seat with a difference of roughly 65,000 votes.

In 2014, the State of Florida has approximately 12 million voters and 6 million of whom didn’t vote this year, meaning that a little over 1% of them voting could’ve helped Charlie Crist take back the governorship from one of the most corrupt leaders Florida has ever had.

But even if Rick Scott still would’ve won, I can’t imagine anyone with any honor in the process not saying that the more voters, the better is generally a good thing for democracy. So how do we get people to care? How do we get people to take an hour out of their daily lives to go down to the polls? How do we convince people that their votes actually do still matter?

I think it’s a number of things, and none of them are very easy to do.

Some people don’t vote because it’s a hassle. I’ve already written about making the voting process smoother, but I think it goes without saying that here in the 21st century where many of us carry around computers in our pockets, the system should be easy to use and it should be informative. There’s no reason that someone should have to stand in line when a simple smart phone app or website could enable the same vote from someone’s home or office or even their toilet! The Internet is trusted with $3.5 billion in e-commerce transactions around the world every day – let’s figure out the security and fraud concerns and make online voting a reality.

Some people don’t vote because they hate politics. Which isn’t hard to understand when you consider how passionate friends and family members and co-workers can get … some would much rather ignore politics in favor of everything else that’s going on in their lives. But the thing is, politics exist whether you want to talk about them or not and you can still vote for your own beliefs without getting into political tussles with people who seem like they want to fight just for the sake of fighting. Back when I was a kid, I remember adults wanting to keep who they voted for private, yet now party preferences are anything but. If anything, I think this is where no bullshit information could help because someone not eager to vote as it is needs their information from a non-partisan source they can trust, something that news outlets for either side are capable of doing today.

Some people don’t vote because they don’t think that their vote matters. And this can be either in the results themselves like I illustrated above or simply in the actions of their politicians after the fact when it turns out that they end up doing the exact opposite of what they had said they were going to do. Frankly, this is an area where a better news organization would be a godsend to the people, too, because whether it’s explaining a candidate’s position or validating their track record, voters deserve information that they can trust and it shouldn’t be served up to either side based on the news that they’d prefer to hear for their own personal beliefs. Sure, it’s a struggle when some will go so far as to choose their own facts to support what they want to believe, but there’s got to be a better way of getting the right information in front of people and that’s the job of the news, plain and simple.

Some people don’t vote because they just don’t care. If I had to pick a group to be ok with their not voting, it would probably have to be this one, although I would still present the argument that typically those who say that they don’t care about politics end up being the ones directly affected by it the most…

Now I know that politics is a touchy subject for people – some would even say toxic, to the point that many are just tired of the back and forth and don’t want to be around anything resembling what’s essentially a lost cause of a debate. Our country is more polarized than ever and more often than not, we do a lot of fighting instead of actually trying to work towards compromise on any given thing. And over time, I think if we could start to get some of the right people into office, those are things that we could work on, too. Politicians need to be held accountable and when they can’t get their job done, it should be time for them to go. We the people shouldn’t tolerate politicians who sit in office and vote merely to maintain the status quo, blocking anything that the other party has to say because they didn’t say it themselves.

But none of these things can change if you don’t vote because at the end of November 4th, that’s the only way that politicians get elected. We’re in a political rut right now and it’s probably going to take a while to make things better, but we have to keep trying because that’s what makes our country great – at least we get to try. Some countries around the world don’t have elections, while others do and literally tax their citizens if they choose not to vote. Here in the land of the free, we’re free to do whatever we want and to care as much or as little about the politics around us as we want…

Personally, I’d like to see voting as something that people can look forward to again – a lot more people than 40% during the midterms and 60% during presidential elections. I’d like politics to be something where you can be super passionate if you’d like, OR you can think about it for 5-10 minutes on Election Day and have that be the end of it, with technology providing you the on the spot information that you need to make an informed decision based on whatever it is that you believe.

Voting should be fast, it should be easy, and it should be effective, and that’s a tall order for a country that’s not very representative in the process today. But we can do better, and we should do better so that maybe 25 or 50 or 100 years from now, America’s electoral process will be something worth bragging about to the rest of the world.

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