By Chelsea Newburg
Alternative Solutions to Low Voter Turnout
While there are many opinions on whether mandatory voting legislation should be introduced, most Americans agree that something needs to be done about low voter turn out. According to elections expert Michael McDonald, only 19.7% of eligible New Yorkers cast a ballot in the New York primary election on April 19, the second lowest turnout for a 2016 election primary with Louisiana in first at 18.2%. These numbers are cause for concern, but what can be done?
Many alternative solutions have been proposed to increase voter turn out. Some have suggested an incentive based approach, including tax deductions for voters or free meals provided at polling places. While greater incentives may encourage more voters to turn up at the polls, opposers have argued that it would not encourage voters to arrive at the polls well-informed on the issues or candidates and could result in higher rates of random voting done in order to attain the incentive.
Others have suggested longer polling location hours or making Election Day a national holiday in order to allow full time workers to participate in greater numbers. Additionally, automatic voter registration upon getting a driver’s license has been suggested in order to ease the large number of voters who miss lengthy registration deadlines. Automatic voter registration would create an opt out system of voter registration instead of an opt in.
Lastly, many have suggested that our current system of voting should simply be reformed. Many have suggested a registration system that allows voters to vote in any election, not just for the party with which they have registered. Others argue that primary elections should be consistent across states instead of our current system of state run open elections, closed elections, and caucuses.
What do you think about these solutions? Can you think of any other ways to increase voter turn out?