Voter turnout is a statistical figure used to determine in the actual participation of citizens in selecting new leaders. Higher voter turnout in any general election would mean that most citizens have rightfully exercised their civilian responsibility. Lower voter turnout would indicate the lack of political participation, or obstruction of civil rights. Of all first-world countries, United States posted one of the lowest voter turnouts at 40% compared to other countries such as Belgium (93%) and Australia (81%) (Friedman, 2012). Supporting data from the American Presidency Project consisted voter turnout rates for every presidential election, and the United States has not achieved a voter turnout higher than 65% for the last 100 years.
Other than the lack of participation, stricter implementation of enacted voting laws through voter identification cards might reduce the voters’ activity.
However, voter turnout percentage may or may not dip at lower rates. In several states, changes to the amendments are made in order to increase voter turnout. In the state of Wisconsin and several states, voters are required to produce a state-approved photo identification card before they can vote (Davey and Yaccino, 2014). Recently, opponents of the inclusion of voter ID cards have doubts that it can benefit electoral process – they cite suppressing voter turnout and civilian disenchantment as reasons. In the state of North Dakota, voters are not required to sign an affidavit before proceeding inside a voting place, which makes voting process more convenient. The change in North Dakota’s voting laws had a positive effect – non-organization company Pew Charitable Trusts declared that North Dakota posted the best election performance among other states for three consecutive years (Smith, 2014).
Implementation of strict voting laws can curb illegal instances of casting votes, and showing a photo-issued identification card might solve voting fraud instances. However, it delineates the freedom to vote – and may play a drastic role in changing voter turnout. Undergoing identification procedures is necessary for voting as it helps curb voting fraud, but it does not have to be strict. Other solutions are available for curbing voting fraud while increasing voter turnout, and one is through voter mobilization. Voter mobilization enables participation and interaction between voters and election candidates through propagation of messages related to civil and peaceful elections by telemarketing, mass media, and on-site events. (Green and Gerber, 2004).
Davey, M., & Yaccino, S. (2014, April 29). Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Law Requiring Photo ID at Polls. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
Friedman, H. (2012, July 10). American Voter Turnout Lower Than Other Wealthy Countries. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
Green, D., & Gerber, A. (2004). Get Out the Vote! How to Increase Voter Turnout. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Smith, N. (2014, April 8). North Dakota first in election performance. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections: 1828 - 2008. (1999). Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/turnout.php