Easier Voting and Turnout
Average voter turnout across the country was horrible during this year’s midterms: about a third of those eligible to cast ballots did so
But turnout surpassed 50 percent in a handful of states: Maine, Wisconsin, Colorado, Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon. During each election over the past 10 years, these states have often been among the top performers.
While the dynamics of voter turnout are complex, the following is worth noting:
The states with consistently high turnout tend to make it easy to cast ballots. Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin allow voters to register on Election Day. Colorado, Oregon and Washington state hold elections exclusively by mail. Washington often has high turnout but was closer to the middle of the pack this year at 41 percent.
This observation inspires me to note the following: if one values representative democracy, then one ought to want to increase voter turnout (because the root purpose of elections is to tap into the preferences of the population). If, however, one likes rules that helps one party’s voter base over the other, one needs to evaluate one’s commitment to representative democracy.
Indeed, given that we Americans love to act as if we both invented and perfected democracy, then one would think we would be doing a better job of living up to that self-vision (of, self-delusion) given that there are known ways to improve voter turnout (both in international comparisons, but also inter-state comparisons as noted above).
(A timely political observation: if one was offended by Gruber’s “stupidity” comments and yet is happy with low voter turnout because one is glad that “low information voters” are not participating, then one needs to reevaluate one of those positions).