Wednesday, March 25, 2009

US Voter Turnout

Compared with other nations the US voter turnout is at 139!

Fair Vote has some suggestions.

"Proportional representation, which is a system that better represents the varied choices and beliefs of the electorate, is usually associated with higher turnout in contrast with winner-take-all plurality districts. A National Popular Vote (NPV) with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) would also better represent the views of members of minority parties. IRV would also reduce negative campaigning with the proliferation of multiple opposition candidates. These both are associated with higher levels of turnout, especially among minorities and young people, in the United States and abroad. Finally, FairVote advocates Universal Voter Registration to make the voting process easier. The barrier of registration in the United States has been estimated to deter voters and decrease turnout by as much as 10 percent. Furthermore, registration barriers that depress turnout contribute to the "socioeconomic skew" of elections in which the wealthy are more likely to turnout than low-income voters. Thus Universal Voter Registration would likely reduce class barriers to voting. There are also a number of turnout boosting institutional changes that are issues not represented by FairVote. ..."

4 comments:

mvymvy said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators -- 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware --75%, Maine -- 71%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 73% , Massachusetts -- 73%, New York -- 79%, and Washington -- 77%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 25 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes -- 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

mvymvy said...

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 "battleground" states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states.
Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

mvymvy said...

A system in which electoral votes are divided proportionally by state would not accurately reflect the nationwide popular vote and would not make every vote equal.

Every vote would not be equal under the proportional approach. The proportional approach would perpetuate the inequality of votes among states due to each state's bonus of two electoral votes. It would penalize states, such as Montana, that have only one U.S. Representative even though it has almost three times more population than other small states with one congressman. It would penalize fast-growing states that do not receive any increase in their number of electoral votes until after the next federal census. It would penalize states with high voter turnout (e.g., Utah, Oregon).

Moreover, the fractional proportional allocation approach does not assure election of the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2000, for example, it would have resulted in the election of the second-place candidate.

mvymvy said...

The Asian American Action Fund, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, NAACP, National Latino Congreso, and National Black Caucus of State Legislators endorse a national popular vote for president.

The influence of minority voters has decreased tremendously as the number of battleground states dwindles. For example, in 1976, 73% of blacks lived in battleground states. In 2004, that proportion fell to a mere 17%.

Battleground states are the only states that matter in presidential elections. Campaigns are tailored to address the issues that matter to voters in these states.

Safe red and blue states are considered a waste of time, money and energy to candidates. These "spectator" states receive no campaign attention, visits or ads. Their concerns are utterly ignored.