Guess what? It’s election day! On a lark, I decided to look at comparative voter turnout by country today. It was, shall we say, not pretty. It’s actually kind of depressing.
So much for the U.S. being THE BEST at everything! In fact, it seems rather odd that the U.S. so often presents itself as being “the champion of democracy” in the world when in fact our rates of voter presentation are … well … low.
And it’s not like this is entirely accidental. Note that in the U.S., in contrast to some other countries, voting is not mandatory. More than this, voting can be downright difficult. Early voting has helped a lot by allowing people with challenging work schedules to hit the polls despite working on election day, but registering to vote involves the submission of a lot of documents—documents not everyone has easy access to.
Here’s a radical question: why do we have to register to vote in the first place? I’m serious! Why not make voter registration automatic? In other words, if you are a U.S. citizen, you are registered to vote. It’s not actually that radical of an idea—there are countries that already do it this way! Chile, for example. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Peru, South Korea, Sweden. Heck, even Mexico!
Interestingly, some countries don’t limit voting to citizens. No, really! Letting non-citizens vote is a thing.And don’t even get me started on voter ID laws. Here’s the thing—it’s true that some other countries to require an ID to vote! These countries, however, typically have a national ID or voting card that everyone has. In the U.S., this is not the case. Not everyone has a photo ID, especially when states that require ID are picky about which ID they accept, refusing to recognize work IDs or other nongovernmental forms of ID. Voter ID laws make it harder for people to vote, period and full stop.
Far from being “the best” country or a beacon of democracy, the U.S. has … problems, when it comes to voting and elections.
I mean, what the heck is this?
Certainly, this is mayoral races, not federal elections—but seriously? This is appalling.
And what about this:
That’s … fun.
I don’t share this graph to place some sort of blame on low income individuals who don’t vote. Rather, this is on us—all of us, as a society—for not doing our utmost to make it easier for every individual to vote.
Oh, and by the way—voter suppression efforts tend to be aligned with party identification—in other words, it’s the Republicans who promote voter ID laws, oppose early voting, and even close or oppose polling stations when they don’t like who votes there. Democrats aren’t the ones doing this.
et out there and vote! If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that elections matter. And if you can’t vote—if our asinine voter suppression laws have gotten in your way—check in on your friends and remind them to get to the polls. Heck, if you don’t live in the U.S., message your U.S. friends and make sure they vote. This matters. Vote!
I have a Patreon! Please support my writing!