Presidential Election an Voting

Updated December 27, 2021

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Presidential Election an Voting essay

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In 1789, that was the date that the first presidential election was held in the United States of America. Winning the race was George Washington who became the first president elected. As the year continued, the turnout to the presidential and midterm election has declined, especially midterm elections. The United States had many voluntary factors when it came to voting, it can be the problem that the number of turnouts kept decreasing. Many people agree that compulsory voting can be seen as insufficient means of achieving accurate representation. In We The People by Benjamin Ginsberg states, “only 6 in 10 eligible Americans vote in presidential elections, and turnouts for midterm elections is typically lower, about one-third of eligible voters; for local elections, turnouts is even lower” (page 221).

I believe other factors, for example, making easier to register to vote while leaving it to the state’s decision, increase voter education especially in minority groups, and motivation are big factors that are preventing U.S election attendance to increase. Compared to other democracy, it’s pretty low being the oldest democracy. The U.S constitution gives states to overseeing federal elections. California has its own unique restriction when it comes to a voting system like any other states in the United States. Over the years, many federal laws have passed to ensure all Americans have the right to vote (voting and election laws).

When it comes to voting, it is a privilege to vote and it is known for the most common form to participate in politics. However, in the United States being a citizen is not enough, to be able to vote you must be a registered voter. Each state oversees when is the deadline to register to vote. In California, the deadline to register to vote is 15 days before the election day. Some states in the United States allow you to register the same day of elections. Each state has their own qualifications you’ll need to register to vote. According to the California Secretary of State website, in California, you must be 18 years and older, must be a resident of California, currently not serving time and not found mentally incompetent.

California is one of the few states that doesn’t ask for voter identification. California allows you to register using paper applications that you can find in your county office, Department of Motor Vehicles office and the U.S post office. Also, California affords online registrations, if your residence address has changed or name, you must register to vote once again. A way we can help increase polls is by spreading the word out to register to vote. Exploited digital platform to advance voter registration, especially toward the young adult group. In Brich article he states, “in this context, mandatory voting laws can be seen as a necessary (if insufficient) means of achieving true and accurate representation” (page 45).

Citizens have the option whether not to register to vote or if they want to register and choose not to attend the polls. If California made it easier to register to vote and have it be more accessible to everyone in age, race, income and education, it can truly help increase polls numbers. Eliminating additional documents to fill out when there’s a change in an address, we would see an increase in election turnout. Having each state oversee election regulation can be overwhelming if everyone was in the same page with qualifications to vote. Elections affect the balance of powers in the house, so your voice does matter even though there are a lot of people who feel that it doesn’t.

According to Raymond Smith he states, “some countries place a very light burden on their voters, with elections being held only every few years and with a limited number of offices to fill..the United States, have frequent elections with quite complicated ballots” (page 119). Many American citizens have the mindset that their vote doesn’t count or it won’t make a difference. Since the United States does carry elections every year for local state office and every four years for presidential office, it’s a lot of information citizens need to grasp on.

In Smith’s reading, he analyzed voting and elections in Israel, “this geographically tiny country is a unitary state, meaning that there are no levels of government between the local and the national for which elections must be held” (page 119) states Smith. Their democracy system consists of a parliamentary system with just a single Knesset. The United States always has had a two-party dominant system. In WTP states, “political parties play traditionally important role in elections. They recruit candidates to run for office, get their loyal party members out to vote and work in a variety of ways to promote the causes and issues of the party” (page 205). Each party needs to convince voters to actually show up to vote on election day, which is probably their hardest job. To increase the motivation for voting, it has shown that more face to face interactions has a better turnout than mailing or tv advertisements.

However, their main target should be young adults from age 18-29 years and low-income families who are known for the lack of motivation. People tend to be busy if the United States made election day a national holiday people who are considered minorities would be able to consider attending the polls. In Zoltan Hajnal article, she talks about how voter identification affects minority groups. Thirty-four states currently enforce voter identification are making it more difficult for lower income citizens to consider voting. This comes to evaluate their right to vote. Turnouts are everything in the end and it doesn’t matter which party has more support if they chose not to show up on election day.

Digital political participation has increased since the 2012 election. Social media was a big outlet during the 2016 election. In We the People states, “social media may help level the democratic playing field, allowing the young, people with lower income, and racial and ethnic minorities to play a larger role in news and politics” (page 220). Majority of the voter’s problems are that they are the most ideologically driven and politically minded votes. Ray Smith states, “American election are often viewed as exacting a heavy toll in terms of “information costs.” In other to cast meaningful ballots, voters must not only know when and where to vote but also which positions are open; what these positions do, what the parties stand for, who, what their qualification and records…” (page 128). People who have a high school diploma or less are least supported in election day. They must have the knowledge and capacity to understand how to participate in politics. During presidential elections, candidates either from Democratic or Republican parties tend to influence individuals with their views.

Unfortunately, if one doesn’t have enough knowledge of each party views, the motivation to vote would be demeaning. If California was more open in making the information of any law passing easier to understand, more participation of the community would potentially occur. Wider access of candidates positions and party descriptions for lower-income homes, you would see a bigger turnout. Especially since states, local races are typically much lower than presidential elections.

Overall, it is our right to vote, this impact who is representing us. Having relatively low turnouts compared to other countries, Americans aren’t getting the best representation they possibly could. Your vote DOES matter. Making it easier to vote and spreading the word about how important it is to vote especially in young adults and minorities. Providing easier information for people with lower income to understand. Increasing voter education in cities with minorities as being part of their population can help increase voter turnout. At the end of the day, it is all about voters having the opportunity and willingness to vote.

Work Cited

  1. Birch, Sarah. “Normative Arguments For and Against Compulsory Voting,” in Full Participation: A Comparative Study of Compulsory Voting, (UK: Manchester University Press, 2009), 40-58, ProQuest Ebook Central.
  2. Ginsberg, Benjamin, et al. We the People: an Introduction to American Politics. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
  3. Hajnal, Zoltan, Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson. “Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes,” Journal of Politics 79, No. 2 (January 2017): 363-369.
  4. History.com Editors. “Presidential Elections.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 8 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections-1.
  5. Smith, Raymond A. The American Anomaly U.S Politics and Government in Comparative Perspective . 3rd ed., Routledge , 2014.
  6. “Voter Bill of Rights.” Voter Bill of Rights | California Secretary of State, www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-bill-rights/.
  7. “Voting and Election Laws.” USAGov, www.usa.gov/voting-laws.
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