Essay themes: Make process quicker and easier, catch the attention of youth
Amanda L. Sheran
Essay themes: Make process quicker and easier, catch the attention of youth
Despite the importance of voting in elections, many people still do not choose to participate in electing officials. Whatever the reason, whether it be a disinterest in political issues or a difficulty in being able to vote, there is no excuse for not participating. Since a lack of time may result in a lack of participation, the voting process should be made quicker and easier. In order to make voting easier, people should be allowed to register on Election Day and to both register and vote over the Internet. Election Day should also be made a national holiday so that voters would have more time to go out and cast their vote. Candidates should also make an effort to reach out to young voters and find ways to capture their attention and increase their involvement. Educating potential young voters about the electoral process could also escalate their participation.
Even though the registration process is already fairly simple, it is still not easy enough for some people to find the time to register. Often times, many people forget to register until it is too late, resulting in a decrease of participation. If registration and voting on Election Day over the Internet were allowed, many people who would not normally register or vote would be more likely to do so. Online voting and registration would allow people to be able to both register and vote without leaving their home or office. Allowing registration to occur on Election Day would be helpful to those who forget about registering until the last possible minute, while voting online would give those people who do not normally have time to go to a polling place an opportunity to vote. Of course, if Election Day was made a national holiday, people would not have to worry about not having enough time to vote. No one would have to disrupt their day or rush to the nearest polling place after work in order to vote. The ease that online registration and voting would provide could smoothly increase voter participation, while making Election Day a holiday would give voters more time to cast their votes. In order to catch the attention of young voters, candidates should discuss issues that pertain to youth. Many young voters choose not to exercise their right to vote since they do not relate with many of the issues discussed and handled by officials and candidates. If they knew that officials dealt with issues that pertained and mattered to them, the youth of America would have a greater desire to get involved in elections and other matters of politics. Having a candidate they could relate to may also help increase the young voters' desire to get involved. Not being able to relate to a candidate or official could cause a political apathy among voters, which could lead to a decrease in participation. Officials and candidates who appeal to voters could eliminate this apathy by capturing the attention of voters and by creating an interest in politics, which would lead to an increase in involvement and votes.
If candidates increased their efforts to reach out to young voters, they might have greater success in getting these youths involved. Visiting colleges, and events that attract youths involving candidates and officials could have a major impact on the involvement of young voters. All candidates should also participate in debates so that voters would be able to find out exactly where they stand on all major issues. Debates give candidates an opportunity to express their views to the public and, since they are televised, they are a convenient way for voters to find out which candidates they like best. A strong knowledge base about candidates and their views could encourage several potential voters to be more confident in exercising their right to vote. The value of the vote should definitely be taught to high school students. The voting process and the party system should be explained to students so that they realize the simplicity of the voting procedure as well as its importance. Political issues and events should also be discussed so those potential young voters have knowledge of what decisions they may help make as well as the impact of these decisions. Students should also be taught that presidential elections are not the only elections worth voting in. The election of senators and congressmen are just as important, if not more, than presidential elections, even though these elections receive the worst voter turnout. Local elections also take equal precedence and can sometimes have a larger impact on the individual's life. Every election should not be underestimated since they all have significance in everyone's life.
As time goes on, people's lives get busier and busier, which could lead to a decrease in the time people have to do things such as vote. In order to compensate for this lack of time, steps have to be taken to make the voting process easier. Measures also have to be made so that the number of youth who vote will increase. Educating young voters of the importance of the electoral process as well as finding ways to capture their interest could definitely have an impact on voter turnout. In any event, something has to be done to prevent a further decrease in the number of people who exercise their right to vote.
Political inactivity on the part of young Americans stems from
one fundamental source-a general cynicism of the American political
process. This disdain for politics is further perpetuated by
a lack of voter education and a needlessly archaic voting procedure
that creates barriers to voting where they need not exist. While
many of these existing problems can be rectified with relative
ease through the implementation of programs such as Internet
voting and better voter education-such programs create only
a partial solution. It will take great strides to create a system
in which American citizens will be represented in the political
process, and only then will young Americans be truly compelled
to vote. One way to achieve this goal is through the adoption
of a system of proportional representation. This paired with
the implementation of Internet voting, increased voter education,
and same day voting will ensure a rise in voter turnouts and
youth participation in government. Regardless of the political
environment, it is the responsibility of voters to take initiative
in becoming politically involved. However, the current electoral
system in the United States is not one that fosters voter participation,
but instead often discourages voting altogether. This is evidenced
through the lackluster voter turnout in the United States, which
is amongst the lowest of any democratic nation. While it is
convenient to blame this lack of democratic participation on
a lazy and apathetic public, the root of the problem lies elsewhere.
The current system of winner-take-all elections, strategic gerrymandering,
incumbency advantage and governmental unresponsiveness to constituent
desires is enough to deter even the most politically conscience
person from voting. For many young voters, the realization that
their vote is likely to have little impact on the outcome of
elections, not surprisingly, prevents them from becoming involved
in the electoral process altogether. Only through the removal
of these systemic flaws, which cause a skepticism about the
importance of voting, will voter participation be increased
and democracy better achieved. One alternative voting procedure
that will alleviate the lack of voter participation is proportional
representation. Through the implementation of a PR system, the
voice of more American voters can be heard-and a more representative
government created. The exorbitant amount of wasted votes that
exist under today's system will be greatly reduced. The lower
threshold of votes needed to elect a candidate under PR will
allow smaller groups to elect representative officials more
in tune with their political philosophy without the having to
constitute the majority of the voting body. This also translates
into the vote of each person carrying a greater weight, thus
giving that person more of an incentive to become involved in
the political process. By providing a greater number of people
voting incentives, paired with the increased likelihood that
third-party candidates can be voted in, PR insures a more representative
government that will better serve the American people. Furthermore,
PR will eliminate much of the opportunity to predetermine elections
through the mastery of gerrymandering, again allowing for a
more accurately representative government. The system of majority
rule is far too static to be adequate for the dynamic needs
of the American people, and especially American youth. Proportional
Representation, on the other hand, allows for the evolution
of American thought by creating a governing body that will change
with the electorate, rather than one that continually alienates
voters by ignoring their demands. Providing a more representative
system is the first measure in ensuring that young Americans
will take part in the electoral process, but the adoption of
PR alone is not enough. Americans, starting from a young age,
need to be better educated about the political process and the
issues that they will face as voters. The ideological platform
of various parties should be introduced to student, so that
when they come of voting age they have the background to vote
for the parties that will best represent their interests. The
better-informed youth are about the facts of issues, the more
informed a decision they could make during elections. Education
of youth about political matters, then, will prevent them from
voting based on propaganda and buzzwords and force them to focus
on the reality of the issues at hand. Furthermore, educating
young Americans about political issues will not only instill
the importance of voting in the minds of future generations,
but will also help in getting older Americans to participate
in elections. Just as parents can educate their children, children
too can educate their elders about the need for political participation,
encouraging them to vote. With all of these benefits, its is
clear that the education of youth in electoral issues should
be given more emphasis. Being informed about the effects of
existing legislation, the process of running for office and
the current political events are as important as learning about
literature and chemistry, and should be regarded as so.
EMILY TALMAGE MERRIMAC, MA College student
I am part of a dying breed. I am in my twenties, I vote, and I am politically informed. Most of my peers can't even name their representatives, let alone get off the couch to vote. This unfortunate fact is due to many reasons, but primarily because young adults are dissociated from society, and do not see democratic participation as essential to the survival of our country. Another important reason is that corporate interests run the United States government, and young people see individual efforts such as voting to be futile in the face of these powerful opponents. In order for this to change, a major paradigm shift will have to occur in the way Americans view ourselves and our government, and changing the electoral system will not help get young adults out to the polls.
Multi-national corporations are more powerful than world governments, including the United States. The World Trade Organization makes trade decisions for countries based on the best interests of each corporation's profit margin, and decimates the environment and working conditions worldwide. We, along with the rest of the world, bow to these greedy giants. The state of Massachusetts attempted to stop buying from Burma because of their human rights violations, and the WTO's response was to fine Massachusetts and declare their actions illegal because they were against "free trade." Young people watch multi-national corporations squash entire states, and are shown the futility of any individual attempt to make a stand. We don't trust our politicians, and know that they all owe favors to special interest groups for campaign contributions. We don't go to the polls to vote because our choices are pathetic, and we view most politicians as powerless in the face of corporate interest.
An even bigger problem is our disassociation from community.
Generation Xers don't see themselves as part of a whole, but
as individuals. Culturally we have not been taught to look out
for our fellow man, but for ourselves. We don't watch the news
or read the paper because it is not relevant to our daily lives.
We have been taught to flip the channel to "The Simpsons," because
entertainment is more important to us than politics. As citizens
we were much more enamored with the idea of Warren Beatty contemplating
a presidential bid than Bill Bradley's campaign efforts.
To correct this we must change our current education models. We need to look at ourselves as part of a greater whole. This begins with the classroom community, and extends out to the global community. Our children need to spend a large part of their education focusing on other cultures. Examining how others live will provide students with a unique perspective on their own lives. They need to recognize difference as strength, and have a sense of something greater than themselves. Students need to learn to think for themselves, and be shown how to seek out knowledge themselves instead of blindly accepting textbook information. Experiential education gets our kids out into the world, and shows them practical applications of knowledge. Service needs to be a daily aspect of education to foster connectedness. Once you are invested in the world around you, a desire to take part in democracy will emerge.
Unfortunately there are no easy or quick answers that will get young people to vote. Changing the voting age, voting on the Internet, or registering t the polls will not motivate anyone to vote. They don't vote because they are uninformed and uninterested. We must reexamine our society to see where we are going wrong. We have to be willing to create a society in which differences are acknowledged and accepted, a society where people have connections to one another and to the natural world. We must change the American dream from the success of the individual to the success of the group. Only then will there be a desire and a space for debate, and a compulsion to make informed decisions about the world through political participation.
Essay themes: Internet voting, Election Day registration, cleaner campaigns, media reform
As the 21st century begins, political participation by young people is plummeting. New electronic inventions seem to be paving the way into the 21st century. This would make you ponder the thought that Internet voting is just around one of these corners we appear to be turning rapidly around. Why do we actually want Internet voting? Convenience. Convenience is a primary part in the quest for internet voting. You also have to remember when you solve a problem you create another one. We now have convenience, but what about hackers or the other inevitable facts facing this new turn? Within this day and time would we be able to have a fool proof, 100% safe method of internet voting? As good as it sounds and as convenient as it may be, until we are 100% sure it is accurate, it isn't worth an attempt. Internet voting is presumably a while away, so right now we want as many conveniences as possible in our busy lives, right? Of coarse, in fact having election day registration is doubtlessly an idea to consider. It would be a lot simpler then having to take time out of another day to register. This does however prove the statement I made before-when you solve one problem you create another one. Would it not hold up lines for the people who have already registered, wouldn't voting/registration lines be longer and slower? I think these problems may occur but we are inclined to find a way to over come them for the most part.
Most new registering voters are high school seniors, planning the route they will be encountering as soon-to-be college students, worrying about a part-time job to help support this new path of life, besides worrying about the added demands of school. Same day voting would make it a lot easier for them, since they have so many other deadlines to worry about. I feel that the expansion of referendum would also help because you're putting more responsibility, control, and appeal on the people. Most people take responsibility seriously, to have more of it makes you think (you undoubtedly want to make sure you are making good choices). This also requires you to be more aware of what is happening in order to make good decisions. If a person considers they have more control they conclude they are needed, consequently caring more. These things are a main appeal for a lot of people. If we are bound to live with new measures, virtually everyone would want to express their thoughts on the subject.
I am part of the generation of youth fading out of the whole political scene. I truly feel debates should be required for all candidates. We could possible be keeping 'the best person for the job' away from the chance of acquiring that job. Everyone knows at the outset, it is conceivable that the foremost candidates retain a quality reputation and/or a wealthy background. I contemplate that the leading participants would want an all out debate to demonstrate they indeed, are not all about money or fame. In addition proving they are the inferior individual for the job. Or do they truly have something to hide? In my personal opinion -appearing to grasp the bulk of my peers? opinions during class discussions- debates the past couple of years haven't served their purpose. They have been used to raise prior occurrences, some relevant others not, to argue their points. Campaigns have recently been all about bashing the candidate's counterparts, and glorifying themselves. Upon receiving a card, with nominees perfectly dressed families and an attached message of 'Vote for ___', a number of people feel as if their intelligence is being insulted. We know no one is perfect. As youngsters, the next generation to decide the fate of future office holders we would rather see you. You at the end of a long day, all dirty from charity work that is part of your weekly schedule. Young people realize more then you think, and in all likelihood 'read you' better than anyone, be honest! Also if you make promises during your campaign adhere to them once you are elected.
I regard these points as having a substantial role in the decline of the percentage of young people that are voting. Another element is the media's over play of an individual of significant command committing an illegal or morally wrong act, like the recent incident with the president. Kids care a lot less about these events then you could imagine. Personal things are just that -- personal. Why don't we over play the achievements of an individual like the president? I am of the opinion, along many others, that this makes our country look bad. 'Our leader' does such horrible things, that afterwards if you get ride of the media hype isn't as bad as it was made to seem.
Just like anything else my one opinion isn't going to accomplish anything by itself. Therefore I asked some people of various ages, mostly teenagers, about some of the things you mentioned in the description of what this essay was to address. Most people believe an all-candidate debate should not be required but be very strongly encouraged. They also distinguish Internet voting as a way to increase voting but also worry about components like hackers and other uncertainties.
A strong subject matter that wasn't cover in this essay was whether or not the voting age should be lowered. Nearly everyone felt that it shouldn't be except in the event that a person was enrolled in the army. In any event most youths said even if the voting age was decrease they probably still wouldn't make the effort to vote.
Could some of the issues I have critiqued change these majority opinions? Maybe not but it might help increase the percentage of youth not voting. We are America's future, anything to help us look at this differently should be considered.