American Voting System
The participation of the public in political activities is designed with the sole purpose of influencing the public policy and leadership. In the American system, the question that arises is on who contributes to the politics and the extent of participation in the election processes. The most noticeable form of political participation lies in the voter turnout. However, in the United States, the voter turnout is less and lowers that in most other parts of the democratic world, especially in the Western Europe because of various reasons. This paper aims at identifying the reasons why there is a lower turnout in America unlike the western Europe as well as the reasons why some American vote regularly while others do not, and the measures that can be taken to encourage regular voting.
In the democratic world outside of the United States, the ruling bodies or the government is tasked with the responsibility of registering the voter who in turn will participate in the general elections. At the same time, the government in power enacts laws that guide the election and voting processes, which in certain situations may be burdensome to the voters, thus denying them the right to vote. This is different to the American system where the American citizens are required to register in order to establish their eligibility to vote. This may be one of the reasons why the turnout is low in the American voting system. The factthat the United States holds the elections regularly dispirits some of the citizens from voting regularly. This is unlike the European countries where the elections are less frequent and the burden levied on the voter is lesser. Considering the formation of the political parties, the United States has only two political parties, unlike other free countries, where there are many political parties representing diverse view. The presence of many parties therefore gives the citizens the opportunity to air/present their views through the ballot. This is unlike the American political formation whereby the view of some people is not accounted for since they belong to the minority few. They therefore opt not to vote since the larger parties do not present their diverse views. The two political parties in the American system lead to the idea that they will or the policies to be passed will not have any impact regardless of the party in office. At the same time, there is the notion that the policy stakes in the American system fails to represent the interests of the opposing economic classes, thus compromising the willingness of some of the people to vote.
The number of the American citizens who engage in active political activities are few; that is, those engaging in the more demanding political activities like campaigning for a given candidate. The number, though small, is higher than the number of Europeans who actively engage in political activities. It should also be known that the people who engages in political activism in the United States are the educated and the wealthy. They therefore make impacts on the political upfront since the political participation in the US is greatly related to the economic status of the people. This in a way limits the capability and the adaptability of lower income persons to engage in voting processes since they believe that they may not benefit from the process.
Another reason that may explain why the Americans vote in lower rates that their western Europe counterparts is the fact that the social movement are established by citizens who feel that the government is not doing enough to listen to their pleas or they are not being responsive to their interests. This being the case, they take to the street to demonstrate, or use other means to air their views. These groups usually do not have much public support as they are proportionally a small. They sometimes prevent the larger population who are not presented in the views from voting, therefore resulting to a low voter turnout.
The American people are not highly involved in politics. This means that they are only concerned but not fully participating. They are more concerned on their private and business affairs as they are more individualistic than collective. Because the voting decision is made on a personal basis, many of the lower class citizens who feel as if they are less affected by the agendas of the politicians and their manifestos usually shy away from voting. This condition negates the WesternEuropean style who like to see a stable government, thus expressing their will through the ballot papers.
As indicated earlier, the majority of the Americans is convinced the party wins the elections will carry out the mandate it has purposed and will be checked by the opposition. They therefore believe that it makes no difference, whether a democrat or a republic party wins the election. They therefore are less concerned with the election processes and therefore turn out in lessor numbers when compared to their European counterparts. The European democracies usually have more clear and definite choices and they therefore embrace the existence of three or more parties.
The Americans do not have a definite voting pattern. Some vote regularly, while others do not. To explain this trend, some factors that can be attached to this trend includes the age of the voters. In terms of ages, the American youths do not like to vote and therefore do not vote in high numbers. Another reason may be the Americans attitude towards the civic education. Some of the American citizens do not attend to the civic education nor watch or follow the live debates. This being the case, they fail to get the news and therefore are reluctant to vote. Other factors that may lead to irregular voting patterns include education, alienation, and income. In terms of economics, the people with low income vote less and on an irregular base as compared to the middle and upper middle class.
The dismal voting pattern can be rectified if the government undertook various measures that include universal voter registration. This would help the government be responsible for the maintenance of voter registers. At the same time, to ensure that there is equal representation of all the people and their views, the system could allow for a third party as well as independent voters. This would encourage the people who feel that their views are not represented to vote for their preferred candidate. If a national popular voting system was introduced into the system whereby all states and regions have equal value in the presidential elections, then the marginal areas that receives no attention could be reached, thus prompting them to vote. The current winner takes it all option could be abolished and in turn be replaced by a fair representation voting. This would help in the representation of the diverse beliefs of the voters, hence prompt many to turn out. Other options would be early voting where people are allowed to vote at will, making the Election Day a public holiday as well as improving on civic education on voting.
In light of the above discussion, the American citizens have a low turnout during election as a result of various reasons including the responsibility of the voters to register, the frequency of the election and the idea that voting wouldn’t bring any change. This is unlike other free democracies who value voting. At the same time, factors that lead to irregular voting patterns include age, education, economic status, and the lack of civic education. The government can embrace various initiatives including national popular voting, maintenance of voter registers and making voting be at will to encourage more participation in voting.