Write to a Congressmen to Make a Law That Increases Voter Turnout

 
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Introduction

Elections are decided on various grounds, one of them is voter turnout. A high number of registered voters’ participation in an election is healthy for any given democracy (Franklin, 2004). The turnout is what gives legitimacy to the elected leadership, thus a critical element in our democracy. It encourages self-determination and public participation in decision-making.  A below average turnout is the case of the USA implies that the majority did not participate in choosing the government of the day, thus the rise of legitimacy issues.

The history and background of voter turnout challenge in the USA.

Voter turnout has been a challenge in every USA election. In the 19th century, disenfranchisement of minority groups such as the colored and women was one of the leading factors that worked against high voter turnout. According to Franklin (2004), the 1950s and 1960s reforms led to these groups being allowed to participate in election without discrimination. The 1964 Civil Rights Act put an end to discriminative eligibility test such as literacy that were used to lock out minority groups. In the southern states, the white majority suppressed the colored rights to vote, largely due to the civil rights movement and racism.  However, the reforms did not automatically lead to high turnouts during voting.  Blacks, youths, and women were still reluctant when it comes to participating in elections.  A good number of those who were eligible to vote did not turn out to voter and another good number did not register to voter.

In the 1986 election, only 46 percent of registered voters turned out to vote. In 1990 the figure dropped to 45, and kept on declining until the 2008 elections when it hit 57 percent turnout, the highest in the last forty years (Leighley & Nagler, 2014). Congressional election are the most affected than presidential. The USA is currently ranked position 31 out of 34 in OECD countries in terms of the young people’s voting in elections.  Moreover, the turnout among the young people is lowest than the elderly.   For instance, sixty percent of those aged 65 and above participated in 1990 elections, whereas only 20 percent of those aged 18-24 voted in the same election. The turnout declines according to the age bracket, from the elderly to the youngest. In this respect, demographics have contributed to low voter turnout. The lowing of the voting age bought many young people into the electoral system, and the population growth also led to the upsurge in the number of the youth voters in 1990s, a group that did not show enthusiasm about voting (Franklin, 2004).

Leighley and Nagler (2014) postulate that voter suppression, and fatigue have been also cited as factors that have contributed to low voter turnout in the recent elections. The literacy and economic levels are some of the other factors that influence the turnout. Persons who have attained college education and the wealth have high tendency to vote than the poor and those who have not gone beyond high school education.

Laws and rules can easily change the attitude of potential voters to go and vote. Other factors such as institutional have been taken care f to try to improve the percentage of those who participate in election (Franklin, 2004). However, there is much that can be explored in terms of legislations to improve voter turnout. In this respect, there is need to put in place a law providing for incentives to vote.

Lack of incentive

Low voter turnout has been attributed to lack of incentive. The young people register low rates of turnout due to most of them being in school, unemployed, and still under the influence and protection of their parents. Consequently, they do not see the importance or change that their vote can bring to their life, thus have little reason to vote. The elderly, economically stable, and highly educated understand the importance of an election. The taxation regimes, job creation, good environment for business, and social welfare programs are all dependent on the kind of government that is in place. The old have a clear understanding of these factors than the youth.  Therefore, there is urgent need of an incentive to enhance voting.  It would be wise to entrench such a development in the low to enhance its influence and also give it legitimacy (Leighley & Nagler, 2014).

Most important positions related to this issue

Legitimacy of election

Legitimacy of the leadership is one of the major issue that elections are meant to address. In an election, voter turnout influence how acceptable the political leadership is to the people.  The decline in voter turnout has threatened the legitimacy of American leadership. In the 2016 elections, more than forty percent of the eligible voters did not participate in voting, which impacted heavily on the outcome of the elections. In elections that are won by a small margin, as was the case of the 2016 presidential election, low voter turnout can tilt the win to underserving candidate. Therefore, the legitimacy of the elected leader can be weak as the majority can still dissociate with his or her leadership.

Economic factor in voter turnout

Economic factors drive various aspects of politics, which explains the demographic trends on voter turnout. Tax cuts for voters is an economic factor that can be tailored to be used as an incentive to voters. With the current economic challenges, many people will be willing to participate in an election to have their taxes reduced (Hill, 2006). However, this should be done in a manner that it targets and reaches out to the most affected groups, the youths and minorities.  The economically stable may not need these incentives, but the lower economic class and the young will.  The congress can decide on how best to apply this without hurting the economy of invoking negative effects to other groups that might not be captured.

Compulsory voting

Compulsory voting for eligible voters does not work in the USA due to its democratic ideals (Hill, 2006). It upon the voter to decide what to do with his or her vote. Right or freedom without duty has never helped to address low voter turnout. Liberalist see mandatory voting requirement as an authoritarian rule that violate civil and political rights of the affected persons. Furthermore, the constitution does not allow punishing of those who fail to vote, thus leaving a room for deliberate absconding of election by eligible voters. In the view of this, it would be imperative to come up with a liberal law that would increase voter turnout.

Incentives by volunteers and parties

In the past election, it has been common to see parties or individuals try to mobilize their perceived supporter to vote and even reward those who have voted with drinks, food stuffs, among other things. Nevertheless, there is no legislation that legitimizes such rewards. The best way to make them lawful is by coming up with a law that provides for rewarding of persons who have participated in voting. It is for this reason that tax cut laws for voters shall be a good idea that will improve the voter turnout. Little incentives can bring about a big shift in how the masses view elections.

The disadvantage of rewards for voting

The tax cut for those who have voted has its challenges. First, the targeted group is the youths, who are greatly affected by low voter turnout. However, if the incentives are offered to only one group, the other groups might react negatively by registering low turnouts so as to be included in the plan. Moreover tax cuts have economic implications. The government would lose revenue that could have been used for development and service delivery. The duration of the tax cuts application, who qualifies, and the rate of cuts is any area that the congress should address to ensure that there is smooth application of the tax rewards.

Moreover, the challenge on where to apply the tax cuts is also a headache. Not every voter has a job to be taxed and application of tax of goods bought can be a big headache. Thousands of the Americans are not paid weekly or monthly salary, they are earn daily wages or are running private businesses.  The Congress should step in and decide which framework can best apply to ensure that voters are rewarded with a tax cut.

In the long run, voters may rescind their enthusiasm to turn up for voting. When human beings become used to something, they tend to pay little attention to its importance. To avoid this, the tax cuts can be applied for a shorter period of time and be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is effective. Consequently, the congress should determine the percentage of the tax cut. The loss of revenue to tax cuts is also another challenge that ought to be addressed by the congress. The duration of the tax cut should be predetermined by the legislature to cushion the revenue collection department from hinges that can affect financing of government projects.

Recommendations

The congress pass laws that provide for smaller tax cuts to those who participate in voting.  The aim of this legislation should be to encourage more people to take part in elections and kill the voter apathy challenge that has bedeviled America for decades. The tax cuts should apply for a shorter period time after election.  Three months can be ideal. The rate of tax cut be renewed based on an individual’s participation in the next polls.

The reward is a way of giving back to the society and appreciating the voters’ participation in election. The law does not discriminate against any person based of political affiliation, thus should be acceptable across the board. America is a unique democracy, by coming up with this legislation, we will have proved to the whole world that ours is an exceptional democratic system.

 

 

 

References

Franklin, M. N. (2004). The dynamics of voter turnout in established democracies since 1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hill, L. (2006). Low voter turnout in the United States: Is compulsory voting a viable solution?. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 18(2), 207-232.

Leighley, J. E., & Nagler, J. (2014). Who votes now? Demographics, issues, inequality and turnout in the United States. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

 

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