Essay Contest Winners
Why does apathy affect eligible voters in a nation that strives for equal representation. Since 1930, the average turnout in presidential elections has been only 56%. Some scholars worry that a declining political base is indicative of a troubled society where citizens have lost their sense of civic responsibility.
So, what is the root of the problem, and what can be done to fix it? Could it be that this group of voters is a lower income bracket, as most stereotypers are led to believe? Well, that is partially the case. A recent survey of non-voters taken by the Medill News Service provided some interesting parallels between the following segments. (Capital Times)
The Doers (29%) were actually categorized as educated and relatively affluent. They even read the newspaper, watch the news and write their own local congressional representatives. They just do not vote.
The Do Not Knows (14% do not read newspapers and have little on government matters. Many were not registered voters,
The Unplugged (27%) are usually young and uneducated to news events and business affairs. They are more skeptical than Doers and less likely to volunteer their time to a charity.
The Irritables (18%) possess political information but, in general, are angry thinking the county is on the wrong tract and officials do not care about their personal opinions.
The Alienated (12) are angry like the Irritables, yet removed from the Do Not Knows. They choose not to vote even though they felt the country was on the wrong tract.
Obviously there is a problem here. Many complain that the process is "too involved" and that public affairs do not affect them. Since the voting process seems too complex, one would think "same-day registration and better education on polling procedures might make nonvoters more likely to cast their ballots" (Marjamaa, Medill News Service). Other changes such as internet voting, voting by mail, weekend elections and holding elections over two to three days would also positively affect peoples decision to vote.
Perhaps the best place to promote awareness is through citizenship classes of new immigrants. Even the immigration and Naturalization Service believes that the only correct answer to the question" What is the most important right granted to United States citizens?" is "the right to vote." However, the vast majority of new citizens fail to register, much less participate in elections as they feel uniformed. Through voter training sessions, a sense of empowerment can be instilled which will lead to citizens making better choices.
Education in the schools can also have a positive effect on students who will soon be eligible to vote. It is time to start a new trend towards a more informed majority. I will work to start this trend as I will be turning 18 next year. It will be an honor as well as a duty to finally voice my opinion in politics by voting and I will take advantage of every opportunity to become involved.