Undeniably, many United States citizens cite the right for every citizen to vote as one of the most important and special things about living in the United States. That being said, it is often surprising that there are still people who do not vote. In fact, there are many political candidates that have spent a great deal of money to understand how to persuade voters to get to the poll and elect them into office. Despite these efforts many individuals, particularly young people and the very elderly do not exercise their right to vote. Perhaps some are wary of the political candidate encouraging them to vote and would instead prefer a more bipartisan approach. For this very reason, it is important that there are programs in place that encourage voting for the simple reason that it is important that people share their opinions so the government will be more representative of the population itself. In essence, the majority only wins in an election if, the majority of people show up to vote in the first place. Otherwise, decisions are made by those people who are more able or better understand how their vote makes a difference.
To create an effective program that encourages more people to vote, a person must first understand why some individuals do not vote in the first place. There has been a great deal of research into this topic. Many people report that they are too busy to vote (Piven, Frances & Cloward, 2000). Some are simply not interested in voting or forget because they are concerned with other things. Even a few people say they might be ill or out of town at the time of the election (Clement, 2015). Overwhelming, research has discovered that young people are not as likely to vote as their older counterparts. In addition, elderly individuals or those who do not have access to voting stations are not as likely to vote for the simple reason that they cannot make it to the voting booth. Some people even say that they feel too busy to vote or do not like or even understand the candidates’ positions on important issues (Clement, 2015). Many do not see how those issues affect them in a day to day context. In addition, some individuals have begun to feel helpless about voting in the United States. Many people do not understand the historic importance of the right to vote. Past scandals such as an in George W. Bush’s elections even led some people to believe that their votes were not even properly accounted for (Blais & Young, 1999). Essentially, some individuals feel that they are too small to make a difference if their opinion is heard in the first place. Even though there may be a large gap in the age groups that are less likely to vote, addressing the simple feeling that one vote can make a difference or to be more accurate, that one informed opinion an make a difference is a universal idea that will encourage all people to vote.
One program that could make a huge difference in this area is to make voting online a possibility. More and more people are using the internet today, not only to get informed about politics but also to mindlessly search funny videos. Because people are on the internet in so many contexts, launching media campaigns to increase voter awareness has the potential to make a huge difference in voter turn out. To those individuals who might say that the elderly are not online, this is just not the case any more. Most people have access to the internet if not in their own homes then in libraries or other institutions. Certainly, a computer with internet access is much more accessible to everyone than a small number of community polling locations as have been used in the past.
Such an online voting program would work in two ways. One, it would update voters and educate them about issues most important to their age group and geographic location. Those who do not usually vote in local elections could access information about potential candidates online. Even though there is currently information about politics online, there may be no incentive for people to access it. However, if when accessing Google or an e-mail, for example, there were ads about voting and unbiased information about political candidates, one might be more likely to click on the link and learn more about an upcoming vote. In addition there could be links to remind people to vote that connect them directly with an internet site. This would cut down on problems in the registration phase of voting, which is another way people are deterred from voting (Clement, 2015).
Secondly, an online voting program if run properly could even allow people to vote from their own homes or at least at a convenient location nearby. For places like college campuses or even nursing homes several tablet computers could increase voting turn out a great deal (Blais & Young, 1999). In addition, there could be security measures in place so voter fraud is less likely to nearly impossible. Many websites already have firewalls and security measures in place to make sure that people are who they say they are. Not only can people shop for virtually everything online, but they can earn degrees, renew their driver’s licenses and even obtain United States passports (Piven, Frances & Cloward, 2000). With such an increase in internet use over time it is a wonder that people have not already thought of ways to vote online.
Some may argue that it would be costly to move all in person voting to an online portal. This is a valid point. To restructure anything major and, to market the new idea it costs a great deal of money. It is more important to think about the long-term savings that such a program might generate. If the government were to embrace online voting, they would not have to organize costly voting centers. People would not have to collect votes and assist in logging and counting the votes. Votes would be less likely to get lost if they were backed up on multiple systems as is possible when using the internet. Finally, those people who do work during the day would be less likely to miss work to go and vote if they were able to simply vote anonymously from a work or even personal computer (Piven, Frances & Cloward, 2000). All of these factors taken together would actually save money and potentially outweigh the media campaign and the cost associated with creating an online voting system.
There are many reasons why voting online is an acceptable solution for getting more people to vote. Ultimately, it is important that everyone have an equal access to voting because that is what the history of American society has taught us. There was a time when women or people of other races could not vote. In changing how voting was done to include these individuals society became a better and more inclusive place. It is important to continue to do that in the modern day. Although candidates may not feel as comfortable with technology as voters do, voting should always be about what the majority and not the interests of the few people who run the country.
- Blais, André, and Robert Young. “Why do people vote? An experiment in rationality.” Public Choice 99.1-2 (1999): 39-55.
- Clement, Scott (2015). “Why Don’t Americans Vote? We’re ‘Too Busy,’” The Washington Post.
- Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward (2000). Why Americans still don’t vote: and why politicians want it that way. Beacon Press.