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VOTING IN THE U.S. Martin Wattenberg, in his book, Where have all the voters gone? delves into the reasons why there is a low voter turnout and what that implies on the idea of democracy. Most people need to have the electoral decisions to be simplified and spelled out for them/ This can be done through a strong party system. He suggests that the American electoral process be more user-friendly, stating that the American elections can be complex. Even the rise of candidate-centered politics has made the electoral process more complex and makes it hard for the ordinary citizens to understand (Wattenberg). Meanwhile, Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward contend that the rich, the young and the minorities are underrepresented in the electorate. These two authors made an impact in the issue of reform on voter registration laws. Moreover, here were restrictions on voting by immigrants and blacks.
According to statistics, only 54%, an alarmingly low number of eligible voters cast their ballots in the last four decades of presidential election (Carleton, n.d.). Apparent civilian apathy is happening especially among those from the low-income bracket and those belonging within the age bracket of 18-25 years old. Why dont these people vote? The numbers of reasons cited are: They feel ignored by politicians; they feel their vote doesnt really count; and they say that they dont get the kind of information they need to make an informed decision (Clinton, 2000). There are three reasons why the people of America should vote: First, it is our privilege. Second, it is our right. Lastly, it is a hallmark of our culture of representative democracy.
Voting is a privilege because it is not everybodys birthright to participate in the selection of a countrys leaders. Suffrage is being mandated by the laws of the land and conferred among its people It can be constrained in some areas or in some parts of the population. In fact in our history, this right used to be reserved to the wealthy and white males of society. Martin Luther King Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, magnifying the voting issues, which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There were also women suffrage fighters who suffered persecution until the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.
In come countries, like Afghanistan, electorates will walk for days before reaching their precinct, some would even line up for hours in order to cast their votes. The United States presidential election of 2000 was one of the closest and most controversial Presidential elections in United States history (US Presidential Elections, p. 1). That election Eve (November 7), the media prematurely declared George W. Bush the winner twice. It was based on US exit polls that left out the state of Florida because the counting there was too close.
It took a month to recount and certify the election results. Bush was declared a winner by having Florida's 25 electoral votes on the last recount, a razor-thin margin of 537 votes to defeat Al Gore (para 1). According to Wikipedia, this election marked the third time in US history that a candidate had definitively won the Presidency without winning a plurality of the popular vote (para 2). (The first two cases happened in the US Elections of 1876 and 1888.) On the 2004 Elections, concerns were again raised on various aspects of the voting process: whether voting had been made accessible to everyone entitled to vote, whether the votes cast had been correctly counted, and whether these irregularities decisively affected the reported outcome of the election (2004 US Elections, p.1). Along these issues were allegations or complaints regarding obstacles to voter registration. Kitcat (2004) simplifies the essence of voting and the need for accurate results explaining the importance of voting.
He terms it as the fundamental action of democracy (p. 1). By casting a vote, a citizen holds previous politicians to account and express his/her hopes for the future. Voting is how every single citizen can wield real and immediate power. Hence, Kitcat regards votes as a vital expression of the people's power that need to be honored. As the elections come in full circles, the most important question of the US electorate and the general public is whether the changes in election procedures, especially but not limited to electronic voting, satisfy the demand of the US electorate for a more accessible and accurate voting system. Voting is an obligation because it is a direct participation to determine the welfare of the nation.
During Elections, every voter is a statesman, carrying a personal responsibility of choosing the best persons to run the country. It is the most powerful tool that we have . . . vote does everything . .
. It wins wars. It loses wars. say country artist Ronnie Dunn (Barbieri, n.d.). And lastly, more than two centuries ago, our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence setting us free from the British rule. Governments are instituted among men, When we vote, we acknowledge the principles by which our sovereign state adheres to. We are demonstrating to the world that we live in a free nation and we are proud of it. Indeed, to vote is our privilege, a birthright fought for us by our forefathers.
It is our duty since it is a means to a better society and a hallmark of our culture, the cornerstone of our democracy. REFERENCES Barbieri, B. Country Artists Stress the Importance of Voting. March 23, 2008 http://www.cmt.com/artists/news/1493277/10292004/d odd_deryl.jhtml. Kitcat, J. Electronic Voting, I Want to Understand the Issues.
March 23, 2008 < http://www.j-dom.org/h/n/WRITING/evoting/ALL/50/>. Piven, F. and Cloward, Why Americans Still Don't Vote: And Why Politicians Want It That Way Richard A. Beacon Press. September 2000 US Presidential Elections, 2000. (November 2006). Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia.
March 23, 2008 . Wattenberg, M. Where have all the voters gone? Harvard University Press (November 15, 2002).
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