Friday, August 22, 2014

If voter turnout is key, why is it so low? - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

No matter what states try, election participation is falling. This doesn't correspond to voter ID laws, narrow voting windows, or anything else. States with vote-by-mail (Oregon) and at-will absentee voting (California) also have abysmal voting rates.
If voter turnout is key, why is it so low? - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Taken together, just 15 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots -- or 18.2 million people out of 122.8 million eligible. Turnout was 17 percentage points lower than the most recent high-water mark of 32 percent in 1966. Democrats were down 14.5 points from their 1970 high, or 20.9 percent of eligible citizens, and Republicans were down 5 points from their 1966 high of 13 percent.
Why? Because most of us know… our votes don't really count. States and districts are increasingly polarized. States are not gerrymandered, so we can't blame redistricting for partisanship in the United States Senate. When did California last have a Republican senator? If I'm voting in California for any one other than a Democrat, at the state-wide level, I'm likely not having much influence. And if I'm voting for a third-party, I definitely have no influence.
California now uses what is known as a blanket primary. Candidates from all parties are on the same ballot and the top two finishers, regardless of party, move on to the general election. The main goal is to reward candidates who can appeal as much to the center of the electorate as to the wings. 
It's too soon to draw any firm conclusions from the California experiment as to whether it produces more moderate candidates, but there have been no dramatic changes so far, while turnout has been dismal.
I'd support a single, nation-wide, open primary, ideally the first Tuesday of June. It would make the election a national event. But, that's not likely to make voting any more meaningful to many of us living in highly partisan districts or states.

No comments:

Post a Comment