When we remember the 2000 presidential election, what will we think of first? Will it be that only around 50% of the voting age public participated or will it be the Florida citizens who claimed they were disfranchised? Although voter turnout is an important issue facing the nation and us the electorate, a larger issue is the democratic nature of the process.
Currently, our election system is plagued by inconsistencies among states’ election procedures as well as system bias within election procedures themselves. Voter registration requirements and deadlines make political participation a two-stage process in which citizens must reach the motivation threshold approximately a month prior to Election Day. Standard Election Day procedures rely on citizens’ abilities to find time to travel to the polls and vote as well as to understand their voting ballots and the issues. The system requires citizens to take the initiative. Initiative requires time, money, and education–resources not readily available to the stereotypical nonvoter. Hence, the cost of voting has become too high.
In order to preserve our nation’s commitment to democracy and equality, Congress must mandate uniform national election procedures for all states to abide. These uniform standards should include automatic Election Day registration as well as uniform methods of voting: poll site voting, voting-by-mail, televoting, and online voting. By increasing opportunities and decreasing costs, the election system becomes more accessible and practical for all citizens regardless of their socio-demographics, and in turn, makes the process more true to its democratic roots.
Melissa Bradley, ’01 Holyoke, CO
Major: Political Science and Communications
Sponsor: Craig Allin