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What Is Voter Turnout and Why Does It Matter?

Most American adults have the right to vote, so why doesn’t everyone use it?

By:  |  November 9, 2020  |    414 Words

The number of registered voters who actually cast votes in elections is called voter turnout – and it is a critical part of the election process. The 2020 presidential election saw record-high voter numbers.

What Affects Voter Turnout?

Many factors play a role in either increasing or decreasing voter turnout. The weather on Election Day, the number of polling stations in a county, and how easy or hard it is to register to vote all affect voter turnout.

Often, older, wealthier, and better educated people have the highest voter turnout. They usually have more time to vote and are more likely to feel like the issues affect them directly than younger, less educated people. Florida has a large population of retired seniors, and the state often ranks higher in voter turnout than most. And that’s in spite of the fact that the state requires photo identification to vote, a requirement that many think lowers turnout.

To Vote or Not to Vote?

The right to vote is often called one of the greatest rights of Americans. It is the main way that ordinary citizens can help decide how the government is run. However, a large portion of Americans simply choose not to vote. In the last 40 years of presidential elections, the turnout rate for eligible voters in the United States has never been higher than 60%.

Why do people refuse to vote? Sometimes they just don’t like the available options. Rather than feeling like they’re choosing the lesser of two evils, many just don’t vote at all. That’s called voter apathy. Other people feel that, with so many people voting, their vote doesn’t count and so it isn’t worth the effort. Some people who don’t think voting is worth the effort just don’t think government policies affect them directly. Others believe that the government is so corrupt it doesn’t matter who wins.

Lack of voter turnout in the country has prompted many Americans to question why voting is not mandatory or why Election Day isn’t a federal holiday, as in many other nations worldwide. Some countries have increased voter turnout by making voting mandatory. Countries like Australia, Singapore, Peru, and others have passed voting laws that threaten fines or punishment if their citizens do not vote. Would this work in America – or would it fail to address the key reasons why so many choose not to vote? For that matter, would the Constitution allow it?

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