Choose from one of the following Topics (Voter Turnout)
Voter turnout refers to the percentage of the eligible voters in a country or state who participate in the casting of the ballot in an election. However, eligibility to cast ballot varies from country to country. Therefore, there should not be confusion between eligibility to vote and the total adult population. Age and citizenship are usually some of the considerations for eligibility for voting. A healthy democracy in a nation requires massive voter turnout. People attribute low voter turnout to politically disengaged voters and a belief that voting for a certain candidate or party will not alter public policy. In comparison to the other democracies around the world, voter turnout in the United States is lower.
Two friends sit in a Texas coffee shop discussing the upcoming presidential election. One friend wonders if the voters will be willing to participate in this election. According to the friend, only 53% of the voters in Texas turned out. However, the other friend thinks the number was higher than 53%. The friend remembers the nearing 60%. In a state like Texas, the difference between 53% and 60% can translate to a million votes or more people casting their ballots which are quite a difference. Both friends are right in the way voter turnout is measured. Voter turnout can be measured in various ways. One of the ways, voter turnout, can be measured as the percentage of the eligible voters in Texas. The other one is the percentage of the number of registered voters in Texas.
Voter turnout in the United States is full of weirdness because of the general lower pattern of how voters participate in the voting process compared to other countries such as Australia, Belgium, and the United Kingdom among many others. General voter participation even falls lower during non-presidential elections. The United States is the only developed democracy in the world that during elections in which all the seats in both houses are on the ballot has a voter turnout of less than half of the registered voters. In the United States, this takes place every midterm elections and the general elections. Therefore, when compared with other developed countries, voter turnout in the United States performs abysmally (Fowler, 2006).
Many factors have been described as the ones affecting the low levels of voter turnout in the United States. One of the most quoted factors is a lack of free time by the voters during voting. Additionally, the list includes wealth and literacy as factors although they cannot rely on. The on the age of the democracy is also a significant factor. The population requires considerable involvement in the elections. However, it takes the time to develop the habit of voting and having a comprehensive understanding of the process of election. Low voter turnout is also affected by the demographics. Senior citizens participate more in voting than youths.
The voter turnout in the United States cannot be compared with that of the state of Texas. In the recent years, the percentage of voter turnout in the state of Texas in statewide elections was listed as among the lowest in the United States. In the 2010 elections Texas was the last state in the voter turnout. According to the United States Census Bureau, Texas was ranked 48th in voter turnout in 2012, 47th in 2008, and 49th in 2006. This trend is not expected to change in 2016 general elections. The above shows that the state of Texas has one of the worst voter turnouts in the United States.
One of the main reasons for explaining this is the booming population of Latino. In comparison with other states with large populations of Hispanic Texas lags behind. Another reason why voter turnout in Texas has continued to dwindle is an inadequate sustained investment in the registration of voters and other drives such as get out the vote (GOTV). Additionally, there is minimal competition in the districts dominated by the minority thus inducing voter apathy. Low voter turnout in Texas is a cycle, and it may not change anytime soon until there is a change of attitude. There are possibilities that voter turnout can be increased in the state of Texas. One of the ways is through increasing the investments of the voter registration and other drives thus encouraging voters to turn out at the polling stations. Others are increasing civic literacy in the schools, ensuring there is an increase in access to higher education, and engaging the voters through the digital and social media.
This paper has discussed matters touching on voter turnout in the United States. It has specifically touched on the state of Texas and the reasons why there is a lower voter turnout than other states. It has also shown ways through which voter registration can be increased to reach national levels. While this is being done, measures should also be taken to increase the voter turnout in the larger United States.
Fowler, J. H. (2006). Habitual voting and behavioral turnout. Journal of Politics 68 (2), 335-344.