By Alex Vanden Heuvel
Campus News Chair
In the United States we have an outrageously low voter turnout compared to other Western democracies; which bothers me for some weird reason because I feel like it’s a sign that our government does not have the mandate of the people and is fundamentally flawed as a result. I certainly would not advocate a complete overturning of our system because that would be unrealistic, but I have 3 realistic potential remedies here in order of ease of implementation that I think you should support. In a perfect world, I have a lot more complex reforms I would like to see but these 3 are the ones that are simple, non-partisan, and have a significant chance of happening.
- Make Election Day a paid holiday.
Part of the turnout problem is rooted in the fact that a lot of people can’t afford to not work on a weekday or don’t have enough time between the end of work and when polls close because everyone goes to the voting station after work. It can’t be on a Saturday or Sunday either because of various religious obligations. A lot of states have a law mandating that employers to give time off to vote but often it is not enough time or unpaid. So the only solution is to finally catch up with a lot of other countries throughout the world and make Election Day a holiday so people can afford to vote.
- Make voter registration automatic with citizenship.
Another barrier that people have when it comes to voting is keeping up to date with voter registration laws and deadlines. People who move around a lot, senior citizens, and youth often struggle to keep registered as well. It would solve a lot of the conflict regarding the identification required to vote and who can vote if every citizen is kept on a national roll.
- Give the power of redistricting to a non-partisan and 3rd part organization.
Both parties would resist this because it takes away a base of their power, but we could end gerrymandering in America but doing this. The unbiased organization would draw congressional districts in basic, proportional shapes that meet the population criteria instead of the current system where the party in control of a state create oddly shaped districts to serve political purposes. This would increase voter turnout in state and congressional election because localo government and representative seats would actually be competitive instead of dominated by a single party as often.