The Right to Vote, at Your Convenience

The right to vote has been a cornerstone of American Democracy since its inception. According to a survey conducted this year by the Pew Research Center, a vast 91% majority of U.S. citizens believe that the right to vote is essential to their sense of freedom. However, voter turnout in the United States is low compared to other developed countries: only 55.7% of the American voting age population voted in last year’s Presidential Election, ranking in at 28th among its peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Fortunately, 86.8% of those registered to vote did cast a ballot.
There are many factors that may be contributing to low voter turnout. For example, voter registration must be done early before an election. Additionally, it can be very time-consuming to go to the polls on Election Day because in some areas polling locations are scarce and lines can be long. Many citizens may not have the time to wait to vote, especially students and individuals in the working class. Even though there are absentee ballots available to those who are unable to vote at their designated location, early voting measures may actually decrease voter turnout. However, other measures that streamline the voting process, such as Election Day registration, seem to positively affect turnout.

Due to the unexpected results of the 2016 election, a nationwide discussion has been roused about how voting rights can be better protected and how the election process could be improved in the United States. It seems that the majority of Americans believe that the government should take responsibility. 59% of participants in a recent Pew Research Center survey believe that everything possible should be done to make it easier for all citizens to vote, while 39% believe that citizens need to demonstrate that they want to vote by registering ahead of time.



There is a pronounced difference in opinion between political party affiliations in regards to voting convenience: only 35% of Republicans agree that what can be done should be done to make it easy for all citizens to make it to the polls, while a much higher 84% of Democrats agree. The views of those who vote Independently are similar to those of the total population of citizens, with 57% agreeing.

While only 20% of citizens believe that voting should be mandatory, overall about 6 in 10 Americans do think changes need to be made to make voting more accessible and convenient for those who would like to vote. There is no clear solution to the problem of low voter turnout, but perhaps it is time the United States government re-examine the voting process and see if it needs an update.

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Kaitlyn Bieniek

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