When we remember the 2000 presidential election, what will we think of first? Will it be that only around 50 percent of the voting age public participated or will it be the Florida citizens who claimed they were disenfranchised? 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 and inequalities that make the cost of voting too high for many members of the electorate. 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. Even then, standard Election Day procedures rely on citizens’ abilities to find additional time to travel to the polls and vote as well as to understand their voting ballots and the issues. In short, the system requires citizens to take the initiative. Initiative requires time, money, and education-resources not readily available to the stereotypical nonvoter.
In order to preserve our nation’s commitment to democracy and equality, Congress must mandate uniform national election procedures for all states. These uniform standards should include automatic Election Day Registration as well as uniform methods of voting at polling sites, by mail, by telephone, and online. By increasing opportunities and decreasing costs, the election system will become more accessible for all citizens regardless of their social, economic or educational status, and it will better serve democracy.
Melissa K. Bradley, ’02 Holyoke, CO
Sponsor: Craig Allin