Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Force the Vote

With the general election just six months away, we are sure to soon be facing the issue of low voter turnout. We all know the problem; nobody shows up to vote. The reasons for this are numerous, the most common reason is that young people don't vote, which data tends to support, but all age groups have significant nubmers of no-shows.

Why don't young people vote? Then becomes the question.
As a young person myself, I feel the reason young voters don't participate is that the differences between the candidates and viable options are almost non-existant. Perhpas we're just more cynical?

Part of the problem lies within the system. Neither the Republican or Democratic party has a sense of urgency because they tend to just go in and out like a revolving door. They take turns screwing things up for a few years, then switch and play the good-guy(really just the lesser of two evils), and the process continues, benefiting those involved at the expense of everyone else.

The parties are so similiar why do bother distingushing them. Even if the candidates differ on an issue there's no feeling that they'll do anything. The process is so political and beauracratically bogged down, it's rare for any politician to keep his or her promises. The political process needs a viable third party(sorry Green Party, you just don't cut it). Most people tend to be middle of the road anyway and are turned off by the candidates they are forced to pick from. With a few tweaks and another election cycle or two the libertarian party could be that party.

As for voter turnout, lets force the issue. Everyone must register to vote within two weeks of their 18th birthday, if they don't it's a $100 fine and maybe some community service just because; that choice can be left up to each district. The fines are administered at registration of licenses, passports, college or during tax season, potentially anything could be used to collect the fines. When an election comes around, simply check the voter records to see who voted. Whoever didn't vote receieves a $500 fine, in local or off-year elections the rate could be lowered, but high enough nobody will skip the vote.
I know the ACLU will say this is unfair to poor people, but it's free to register, so go to the nearest secretary of state, post office or school and pick up a registration form.

Last semester I took an International studies class, "Intro to Latin America", and I learned that in Latin America they hold elections on Sundays and close everything down except essential public services. Put voting centers in every neighborhood, or retirement center, so people can easily gather to vote.

The process is a win-win. Not only does particapation reach new heights, but knowledgeable participation increases too. If people have to vote, they will be less apathetic and be more interested in exactly what their options are, which would *GASP* make politicians actually accountable for their actions. Knowing they couldn't as easily slip something past voters they might start behaving themselves.

1 comment:

Mildred said...

Keep up the good work.